Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We Have Bees!

Before I went to Williamsburg with the boys, The King and I had been watching Youtube videos on beekeeping.  We discovered what is called Top Bar Hives.  These hives are easier on the beekeeper's back and are most economical-something we look for.  By the time I got back, The King had a box ready for us.  Then about one month later, I got a call from a close friend that she had a swarm in one of her trees.  I asked her about the location and determined that I should be able to get it.  It was on a little branch low to the ground.  So I found a Youtube video on catching a swarm, got my cooler and kids, climbed in the van and took off!  I don't have photos of the process because we were all too hyped up (some were scared) to concentrate on that.  Here are some photos of the next couple of days after putting the swarm in my box.

Here was my bee outfit when I caught the swarm.  Swarms are very easy to handle and I didn't have any bee equipment anyway.  My husband got his hat and put one of my net laundry bags over it just so we wouldn't have to worry about the face area.  He wanted me to be all buttoned up in a jacket but I was too antsy to put all that stuff on.  I needed to feel free to move, plus I was brave at the time.  LOL  

Here is our top bar hive.  Do you see the blue cooler behind it?  That's how I transported the bees to our house.  I cut the whole branch off and put it in the cooler.  I had to wait a little while with the top open because some of the bees had started flying around.  I learned later that I could have sprayed them with sugar water to keep them more in a ball.  Anyway, The King took the top off the hive, put the branch in there, and then left the box open for the stragglers.  The side of the hive has a viewing window from plexiglass.  It is behind the wood panel on the side.

Just to be safe we fed the bees.  It was still late winter and we had moved them.  We wanted them to stay so we gave them a 50/50 solution of sugar water fed from hummingbird feeder.  Hey, it worked!

This view shows you the feeder in the front of the hive.  There are 5 entrance holes for the hive but we only had one open.  It was still chilly at night and we didn't want the new hive invaded by robber bees.  Having only one hole open, there is less entrance area for our bees to have to defend.  As the season goes on, we opened the other hole one by one until they were all opened.

There was a huddle of bees outside the entrance for a couple of days.  We still don't know why they do that but we were just glad they didn't leave.

Here is a view through the plexiglass.  We assume that the queen is in the middle of the huddle.  This is basically all we saw for about 2 weeks.  After that, we could see through the mass here and there bits of comb being built.

Here is Tigger wearing the hat and veil.  He felt comfortable around them especially in the beginning.  He's more wary again because both The King and I have bee stung since.  But it's ok, a few stings are good for ya!  Keeps the MS away.  LOL

   The next two photos were to capture the difference in the worker bees and the drones.  Drones are the males and they are bigger.

Transporting the bees in the van with 2 kids was interesting.  Even though I duct taped around the top of the cooler, there were still stragglers who could smell their queen and wanted in.  So there were a few stray bees flying around the back of my van--they stayed close to the cooler thankfully.  The boys seemed fine once I covered them with jackets and stuff for their heads.  It was an adventure!

We have not taken a class yet and we were too late to sign up for this year.  We have made and will continue to make mistakes I am sure.  We hope to sign up for the class starting in early 2013 where we will probably learn everything we did wrong.  :)

More of the story to come.....

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