New Hives!

In the depths of winter Santa left a note under the tree indicating an order for two hives would arrive this spring – Spring is here and Santa comes through again just this past Saturday! Our original thought was to order 2, one in case our hive died over winter, and one to put in the old hive we had gotten from my grandfather’s barn. We figured if we didn’t need both we’d give one up… that thought lasted 2 seconds before we said 3 it is! There is a lot of prep work that goes into the hives. We purchased a third hive that we had to fully assemble and we had to re-do a bunch of the old frames in the inherited hive (apparently mice like beeswax).

We painted the two new hives in our signature ‘puke green’ but this time added designs. The designs serve to help both us and the bees identify which hive is which. Grandpa’s old hive “Lynwood” was painted with squares:

The new hive was painted with X’s and named “Lars” in honor of another new birth:

Supposedly bees can most easily distinguish X’s and Y’s – guess they really like abstract algebra!

The installation went quite smoothly. It was a lot quicker and easier the second time round. Most importantly we were less scared of bees and had a better idea of what was going on. We learned last year to get the bees out of the box as much as possible. We took quite a bit of video, however it will take a few days for our resident video editor to get home from work and fight with our cranky old laptop to make you a masterpiece.

As you will see in the video installing bees is quite easy. First you get a box of bees:

Next you open the top of the box and pull out the queen. Check to make sure the queen is alive and kickin’:

Insert the queen cage candy side down in between two frames – it should tightly fit. The bees will eat through the candy to get her and by the time they do they will have accepted her as the leader. Typically this takes a few days but we will check on Monday or Tuesday to make sure she has bee freed.

Next you just shake the box of bees over the hive. (no photos here since I can’t take photos and video at the same time and really we are trying to be beekeepers, not AV guys)

There might be a few bees left on the box, but they will crawl into the hive:

But all these bees will make there way inside in an hour or so. What makes them want to go into the hive? Smell. “Hostess” bees put their rear ends in the air to let the rest of the group know that the hive is the new home. Below a hostess bee welcome her sisters to the hive:

As a final welcoming gesture, we put a pail with 1-1 syrup and fumagillian on both new hives.

So far everything looks good. The bees were buzzing around doing some orienting flights today and have hunkered down for the night. (Bees don’t fly below 50F and Freeport had a sea-breeze this afternoon so they stopped flying a few hours before sunset.)

So that was the Saturday install. We also checked the original hive (which I think we need to name now) today and will put that info up next. I can see with three hives that the blog is no longer going to be able to cover ever single hive opening. Nor are we going to remember everything. I am going to start a notebook for each hive so we can remember what is going on. We probably should have done that last year, but I guess now is as good a time to start as ever.