Sunday, April 19, 2009

Installing the bees

Our bees finally came in. After an hour drive to go pick them up we were ready to put them in their new home. The first step was placing the hive body.

The spot where we placed the hive was not completely level. Plus the area is mowed by a commercial service who we really didn't want messing with the hive. So first we did a little digging and raking to level the dirt out some. Then we placed a weed barrier down and put 8 brick things down to form a base. The picture show what one of the bricks looked like. I'd guess they were about 4" by 8". On top of the bricks we used a couple of 2x4s and then also wedged bricks on two sides of the box. After all of this we then used 4 bags of mulch around the area to keep the grass/weeds down and keep the mowing service from needing to get too close.

The bees come in a box that is about 12" by 6" by 6". In the picture you can see them hanging down almost like a curtain of bees. That metal can in the middle has been their food source for the trip. Some kind of syrup that they seem to like. To keep them happy and calm we have been spraying them with sugar water from time to time. This really calms them down quite a bit.

Here is a shot of the box as we first take the can of food out. You can see a few of the bees getting out and starting to fly around already. Prior to doing this we had sprayed them quite a bit with water which helps to calm them down. If you look inside the hive body you can see that we have removed a few frames from the middle to make a space to put the bees. There is also a feeder insert on one side of the box which contains about 1 gallon of sugar water (1 to 1 mixture). We'll keep that food supply in for a week or so to help get them started at building comb. Then we'll remove it and put a frame back in it's place.

Here are the bees just after being put into the box. The way we did this was to first bang the travel box to get most of them all on the bottom of it. Then you turn it over and drop them out through the hole where their food can was. It took a bit of slamming it against the hive body to get them all out and they were just kind of a clump. A few were flying around but none really bothered us.

Also of note in this picture is the small group of bees on top of the frames on the right. At this point the queen is still in her cage hanging right below that spot and some of the bees are sticking close. After getting the main bunch of bees in we released the queen from her small cage and dropped her down into the hive body before putting the rest of the frames back in and closing it up. The picture below is us opening the queen cage.

The whole process went fairly smoothly. I avoided freaking out while my wife did all the real work. We still do not have bee outfits for our kids so they remained back up in the van watching from a safe distance. Eventually we will have them down by the hive working with us too.

Our plan is to try and check the hive again tomorrow night and see how they are doing. Hopefully we will not find an empty hive body. We were not able to get all of the bees out of the travel cage so we left if sitting next to their hive body hoping the remaining bees will find their way over to the hive. We'll also remove this cage when we check back tomorrow.

OMG we now have a real live bee hive to take care of!!! This could get interesting.

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