Got my bees!

What a day. Started off bright and early in the morning taking a trip out to White Lake to get my bees from Don Schram, the nicest and most patient nuc supplier. I must have called him a dozen times with questions over the last several weeks with a few calls being from today as we somehow left our iPhone at home  and got half way there before realizing we didn’t have iPhone driving directions. That was undoubtedly the most stressful part of the day since we got turned around a little bit on the way there. Finally, we made it there. Don answered several more of our questions, and then we left with our cardboard nuc box including 5 frames, 4 of which already had very strong brood patterns, of 3lbs of bees.

At the beginning of the drive home one of them got out of the box even though we had duct tape holding the lid shut and their entrance was closed. It went straight to the back of our car for the rear window. We had all the side windows rolled down and the moon roof cracked to allow any escapees to fly out; however, at one point we had to pull over and put on our gear because it seemed that too many were getting out – maybe 8 or 9, but it was hard to tell if they were all the same ones because we knew some were flying out the windows yet there always seemed to be the same number inside the car. With the drive home being about an hour, it was good to take precautions; however, I didn’t ever feel threatened by the ones that got out of the nuc.

Once home, we took the nuc out to the backyard and placed it next to the hive, leaving the car doors open and windows rolled down to let the rogue bees find their way out. We didn’t have a lot of time before Andrew had to go to a photo shoot, so we decided to save moving the frames over to the hive until he got back later in the evening (teamwork!), but I opened the entrance of nuc to let orientation flights to start taking place. And wow, once I opened that door so many started pouring out and circling the nuc. I knew they would do this, but it was fascinating to see them in action and a bit intimidating I must add!

After that, we left the bees alone for a while. Andrew went to work, and I just kept an eye on things from inside the house. They calmed down after a couple hours. There was only steady traffic coming in and out of the nuc at that point. AMAZING how fast they seemed to adapt to their new surroundings.

Around 4pm, Andrew got home and we began to move the frames over. Using my hive tool, I had to pry a couple of the frames apart in order to move them individually. Starting with the outside ones first, I worked to keep them in the same order they came in – this is a VERY important step of which I don’t totally know the reason for, but it seems logical. When it came to the middle frame, it was completely stuck to another frame. I really wasn’t sure what to do in this predicament because the middle frame contained the most bees and probably the queen. I figured that if I tried to cut all the comb that was built and connected between the two frames, I could easily and unknowingly kill the queen, not to mention create a riot with all the bees since those were the busiest frames of the whole nuc! Rather than doing anything like that, I just picked up the two frames together and transferred them very carefully into the hive. Not sure if that was the best way to handle or if I’ll have to un-stick them at a later point….

The hive installation was a great success! AND I even made it in time to 5:15 yoga with Amanda at Serendipity Yoga. By far the best day of my week, and such a great way to go into the new work week. I’m going to try to resist the urge to check on the bees until next weekend. I’ll of course keep tabs on the simple syrup I made for them and the water dish I put out for them (who knows if they’ll use it though, I hear they prefer odorific water to the clean variety), but I plan to just kind of let them do their thing and see how they get acclimated to their new home.

Overall, the whole process almost seemed too easy. The biggest trouble I am having out the whole thing is locating my DV cable for my camcorder – I can’t wait to share the footage we shot of the day with everyone! Video (hopefully) coming tomorrow!!

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3 thoughts on “Got my bees!

  1. The lack of certainty that comes with a new hive makes everything a bit more stressful for me. It’s all so new and exciting, and one really has no idea what’s going on, even if one thinks one does. You’ll go through a giant learning curve this first year, lol.
    The frames are all supposed to go in “exactly” how they were before because that setup is the way that the bees feel works best. As the bees expand later you can move the frames around more, either to provide more space in the brood chamber or to encourage them to draw out a frame. Because there are only five frames of bees, and they’re going into a new space, you want the frames to stay the way they were in the nuc because if you accidentally turn one it could put eggs/brood onto the edge of the cluster and that could prove fatal.
    Also, you’ll eventually need to scrape that wax off of those connected frames to make sure everything in the hive is going well. If you’re concerned about squashing any bees, just smoke them excessively until they all move further down into the box. Then you can quickly scrape the wax free with minimal damage.

    • See this is exactly the wonderful advice that you just can’t get out of a book! That explains the order of the frames, but do you really think I’ll need to go into those two frames that were stuck together rather than let nature take it’s course? I did my first inspection today, nearly one week from the day I installed them, and I saw a couple beetles but besides that all looked well…but I guess I don’t truly know what well looks like yet – LOL!

      • Moving those two frames really isn’t a vital thing until later in summer, when they’ve expanded sufficiently. And honestly, you don’t even really need to do it at all. There’s a ‘leave alone’ method for beekeeping, where you only touch the hive two or three times a year. I don’t like this method because 1) I enjoy looking through the hive too much, and 2) You can’t really know what’s going on inside the hive, and swarm control is basically impossible. I know that in my city anyway, swarming is something you can be fined for.
        So, those two frames aren’t something you HAVE to inspect, but keeping the frames movable is important in understanding the inner workings of the hive, and can be a legal requirement depending on your city’s laws. Which is whatever, because I wasn’t legally allowed to keep bees until a month or two ago, and this is my third year, lol.
        I have no experience with beetles thankfully. I’d definitely do some searching online about that. I’ve only ever had bees with mites and nosema, and that colony died out over the winter so I never had to treat them for anything.

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