Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Happy Bee Day

Mr. Bee and I, and our little bees, are very happy and feeling very blessed to be officially starting our fourth year of beekeeping. We'd like to say a special thank you to Mr. T. for letting us do this on his land.  We appreciate his love of nature and his friendship with our family.

Last Sunday we went out to make sure everything was ready for the hives and to let our newly-painted boxes air out a bit. Everyone helped.

Little Mr. Bee and Little Miss Bee
Mr. Bee picked up our new bees last night and we had gorgeous weather today - just in time to put them in. Introducing...our two new hives!

We purchased two 2-pound packages of Carniolan honey bees and I thought it was funny that they traveled from California to Minnesota via "Bee-Bus".

We work more efficiently each year at getting the bees in the hives. We remove the can filled with syrup (food for the bees' journey) and carefully remove the queen's separate, very small box.  You can see the clip holding it just to the right of the feeding can.

We use this method of getting most of the bees in the hive:

The queen's box gets a mini marshmallow stuck in the end and it goes in the center of the hive.  By the time her attendants and the other bees eat through the marshmallow, they will have accepted her as queen and she will get right to work laying eggs. You can see her tiny compartment below, in the center of the hive. Her royal attendants (that is the real name) have already been feeding her on the journey and taking care of her, so they'll continue to do that until she can make her way out and onto the frames.

Mr. Bee made simple syrup, which we'll use minimally until the nectar is more readily available outside, to feed them. The jar you see below has a lid with three tiny holes that the girls* will drink from, and the whole thing is placed inside what you see as the second super (box) that you see on the hives now.

*Remember that all worker bees are female, so many beekeepers call them "girls".

As explained in an earlier post, Carniolans are known for being very strong in the spring season, so it was no surprise that our new bees were ready to work and that many started orientation flights in front of the hives before we had everything cleaned up. Carniolans are also regarded as good wax-producers, which was noted by us when we saw that the left hive had already begun building comb inside the Bee-Bus. The right-most hive had a very upset/energetic queen, and we saw this temperament through the hive already. Perhaps because of the other bees in their space or perhaps because it will be their overall mood.

Aren't they beautiful?  We suspect these are a mixture of Italian (more golden yellow) and Carniolan (darker black), as you can see below, but we're not sure.  Either way, we're very hopeful for the season.  

Thank you for joining us!