Monday, June 6, 2011

Bees: Part II

The night of getting the bees home from the post office, I had to install them into the hive I had built the night before. The basic steps of bee installation are as follows.
1. Wait until dusk so the bees are less likely to fly away since it is "sleepy time"
2. Spray the bees down with sugar water so they are all "drunk" and less likely to sting
3. Gently tamp the cage on the ground so all the bees fall to one area then pry open the top
4. Pull the queen cage out. (The queen bee is in a tiny box with a few attendants during shipping.) Find the end with the cork on it, remove that to expose the candy block (The candy keeps the queen in for a few days before she can eat her way out so that the rest of the bees don't abandon the hive.)
5. Rubber band the queen box to one of the sides of the hive. (Again so the bees don't abandon the hive.)
6. "Pour" the rest of the bees into the hive and then cover the hive

Like most of the things we try for the first time, I ran into problems. However when you are literally in a swarm of pissed off bees this not the best place to experiment!

Problem #1 The sugar water clogged my spray bottle so the bees were only half sugared making them less docile.

Problem #2 I dropped the queen cage back into the rest of the bees which meant I had to put aside my fear and put my hand into a box with 1,500 bees and get the tiny box out. Yikes!!!

Problem #3 The cork got stuck in the queen box and Jeff had to run to get me a screw to wedge it out.

Even with all of this, the entire operation went very well. I only got stung once (of course it was after I had finished and was walking away.) And in the end all the bees stayed in their new home and Jeff got a great show of watching me (from a distance) deal with this. I had to laugh though when I looked over at him and in one hand he had the digital camera and the other the broom. When it was all said and done, I asked him what the broom was for... he said he wasn't sure but it just seemed like a good idea.... I couldn't' have agreed more.

Yes, I covered the ends of my pants and sleeves in tape just in case!