After last years terrible ending, I decided to order a package of bees to start my season off. This is the first time I have bought bees…I’ve always caught swarms to add to the apiary. With the terrible losses last year throughout the state, I was nervous the swarm scene might not be as magnificent as it was in 2017. I received my package yesterday–it was a balmy 42 degrees out. I was hoping for much warmer weather, but this coming week looks to be delightfully in the low to mid 60’s.
The post office called me at 6:30am to let me know that the bees have arrived in town. It was 32 degrees. When I got there to pick them up, the Postmaster told me he was a little worried because they were all very quiet first thing, but as the temp began to rise, so did the bee activity. It was 42 degrees when I decided to hive them.
I’ll admit I had to watch a YouTube video before trying this. (you can learn anything from YouTube!) I found that getting the sugar water out of the package was a bit difficult, but what I really failed at was the Queen herself.
As I flicked the staple out to release her cage I did so without holding on to her! Down she fell! Retrieving her was not that difficult actually, but I was worried that I would squash a few reaching for her.
In the end, the rest of the installation went smooth as can be. The cool weather might have helped a little, but I was surprised to see so many bees flying around the apiary. They seemed calm, just taking a look around. I closed up the hive, and I’ll check on them on Monday to verify the Queen has been released from her cage.
Fingers crossed and a quick prayer to Saint Valentine, who not only is the Patron Saint of love and romance but is also charged with ensuring the sweetness of honey and the protection of beekeepers.
Spring is such an exciting time for beekeepers. It’s the time for healthy bee colonies to swarm, and I’ve been ready since the beginning of April. Eagerly I’ve had all my tools, hat, veil, gloves and a 5 bar nuc hive in the back of my Jeep just hoping I would get the called. In January, I officially added my name to the West Virginia swarm list with the state apiarist, and I’ve had my fingers crossed ever since. Little did I know that it wouldn’t be the Apiarist that would call me. I woke up this morning with a voicemail from a co-worker asking if I might be interested in a swarm.
I tried really hard not to get too excited because bee’s don’t always stick around for very long. I was pretty excited when they were right where I was told they would be.
I shook them right into my nuc and added 3 bars of drawer comb. It didn’t take these girls long to decide they liked the arrangement. (you can tell by the way they put their bottoms up in the air to fan a “we found a home” pheromones through the air) I just love the sound a happy hive makes. I shook down the remaining bees a few more times before I closed up the nuc and tighten the ratchet strap down to head to our apiary.
As I was talking to the homeowner, I was thrilled to learn that right there in the front yard was a bee tree. A beautiful healthy bee tree…and it’s been there for a number of years. The entrance to the hive was 15 feet off the ground, and it was just buzzing with life. I’m so intrigued with feral hives and would love to do a photo project of found feral hives. I think it would be a great exhibit for the local art center. With that in mind, and seeing that there was a ladder propped up on the porch in front of the tree, so I jokingly suggested I should come back with my camera. He agreed.
I’m not sure he knew I was serious, but I’m hoping to take him up on the opportunity soon 🙂