Friday, June 5, 2009

Bee Day At Last!!!

As mentioned in yesterday's blog, we didn't open the nucs when we brought the bees home yesterday.

Instead we planted the nucs where the hives would rest and waited until dusk to open the bottom entrance.

The advice was that if the bees were introduced slowly they'd have more time to orient themselves to the location.

By being oriented a little more slowly they wouldn't fly off and be lost.

When we arrived the next morning the bees were flying happily in and out of the nuc box, even bringing back pollen they'd found.

We planned to arrive around 11:00 (mid morning) to hive the nuc frames of bees into the hives.

Codie even got the day off school so he could come and help. (Codie, you owe your Auntie for getting you out of school for a day).
During the night I woke up a couple times, worried that raccoons might tip over the nuc boxes. I was very relieved to arrive and find everything just as we left it. Whew!
Codie got the smoker going and then watched from a safe distance. Dad and I wore bee veils and Dad handled to smoker while I focused on opening up the nuc boxes and pulling out the frames.
My plan was to be organized and calm so we talked about what would be done each step of the way before we started.
We gave them a little bit of smoke in the front entrance and through the screening on top.
The nuc box comes with little cardboard divisions that hold the frames in place and the lid was taped on. All I had to do was cut the tape and take the lid off, and viola... Bees!

Even though the bees hadn't been in there that long, the frames were stuck down. I was able to pull them out by hand with a little wiggling. The bees were very calm and clung to the frame. Not once in the whole procedure did bees fly up or land on us.

The frames should be placed into the hive in the same order that they're in the nuc. Also, the frames should face the opening in the same position as the nuc. This keeps everything as familiar as possible for the bees.
I took out the first frame, lifting slowly straight up. I was not going to spend time looking for the queen.
I figured that would be resolved when I do my inspection a week from now. And I didn't want to stress the bees any more than necessary.

I did not put the empty frames with foundation in first so as to leave more room for the nuc frames.

As I picked up each frame, the bees were very calm and clung to their frame. None of my helpers ran off in fear. In fact, once they saw that the bees were gentle, they came in for a closer look.

I set the frames in one by one with lots of space between them. Then I carefully and slowly snugged them up to each other and the edge of the box.

After that I added in the 6 frames with permadent foundation. This permadent is black--all the better to spot the white eggs.

Then I slowly spaced all the 10 frames out so that they were mostly equally spaced.

It was all pretty easy and smooth.

Then we put the hive feeder on top.

My hive feeder is a wooden box with a metal bottom with holes drilled in a well area where the bees could climb up and over the edge of the well to drink without drowning. I used a water and sugar mixture of 2:1 (2 parts water to 1 part sugar).

I debated over using a rim spacer and a sandwich bag with sugar water but since I had the hive feeders I decided to use them.

Next I took the nuc box that still had a few bees in it and I shook it very strongly over the hive. Then I set the box in front of the hive so any stray bees would be able to pick up the smell of the hive and find their way.

After that we popped on the outer cover and set a couple bricks on top.

Then we watched and it was amazing to see that the bees were already bringing back pollen--huge clumps of white pollen on their back legs.

This was a relief to see them finding food because we are between major flower blooms at the moment--the whole broken arm thing delayed me setting up the hives in the middle of the best bloom time.

There's lots of water in the swamp too so I don't need to worry about them finding that. Hopefully the sugar syrup will tide them over for a couple weeks until they get some comb built and the next wave of blooms come in.

Then we repeated the same process on the second nuc.

I opted for a pink and green theme for the hives just to liven things up a bit.

The pink bar is the entrance reducer which will only need to be in place for a week or so.

The whole process of installing the nucs went very calmly and very smoothly and no one got stung.

After about 45 minutes the nuc box was empty of the leftover bees and I moved it away from the site.

We watched as the bees were a little confused for a bit over the new entrance (reduced) and they took some time to find where it was.

It wasn't long until bees stuck their rears up at the entrance and fanned furiously, sending out homing pheramones. You could actually see the incoming bees catch a whiff. As soon as the bee starting scenting the entrance the bees zeroed on it immediately.

The bees were very calm and placid and they made a very good impression on us first time beekeepers.The bees were very calm and placid and they made a very good impression on us first time beekeepers.

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