We’ve been waiting for weeks for our honeybees to arrive. They’ve been continuously delayed for (I’m sure) various reasons. Last weekend they finally made their way into our friend Carl’s hands and aboard the boat to our little island. Carl brought them over to us early the next morning (on our dear friend James’s birthday!) and helped us transfer them to their new home. Zak and I have been prepping by watching tons of youtube videos about beekeeping, reading some bee books, and painting the hive. I threw Odin in the sling (very sloppily) and ran outside to watch when Carl arrived.
The first step is to pry the top cover off and remove the queen. The queen is in a separate little cage closed off with a sugar cube to allow her to eat her way out over the course of a few days. This allows the queen and the hive to adjust to one another and to their new surroundings. Other than her elongated torso, she looks a lot like the rest of the colony. With a rubber band, Z attached the queen to one of the middle frames
After the queen’s in place, we doused the bees with sugar water to keep them content as we poured them into the hive. It was funny (and a little scary) watching Zak shake and dump the bees into their new home. Carl sprayed the remaining frames with sugar water to keep the bees occupied while we set up the top to the hive.
(notice our spastic cat climbing a tree in the background, pay no mind)
Placing the box that they arrived with in front of the hive allows the last few bees to venture out and hopefully into their new home on their own. There are always a few more left in the box. We then took the can of sugar water, Z poked holes in the top, and set it upside down on top of the inner cover to provide the bees with food until they start building comb and can start to produce their own honey. We then let Caligula investigate.
There are two different entrances. For now we use the small entrance and in about a month we’ll be able to switch back to the larger entrance to allow more passage for the bees to collect pollen and nectar. Odin was fascinated the entire time and watched silently from the sling.
A few words from Zak on bees;
Hullo strangers, I feel the need to preach for a moment and since this is the internet and thats what people seem to do here I guess I need not feel ashamed. Getting these bees was very exciting and was the climax of much dreaming and wishing over the past few years to get into apiary. And of course over the time I couldn’t pursue these desires in any physically tangible ways I did the only thing left to do. Read about bees. And the more I read the more and more I realized how truly fascinating these little insects are. I also realized how little the majority of our country knows about the important role they play in putting food in our mouths. Did you know that one out of every three bites of food we eat comes from open pollinating plants (assuming you eat fruit and veg)? And that bees are doing all the leg work in the pollination process? Imagine doing all that work by hand, or even worse, if all plants were pollinated as they were before bees existed, which was via fly. Meaning that these plants flowers usually looked and smelled like rotting meat. Thank god for bees, at least for now. Unfortunately in recent years large portions of honey bee populations have been disappearing from their hives and leaving them to collapse. This is accurately called Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD and is pretty serious. It is different from a swarm. When bees swarm, the hive simply gets too big, splits, and half the bees go out to establish a new hive. With CCD the bees simply wander off and die. All signs point to over-spraying of agricultural pesticides as the culprit. These chemicals don’t simply kill the bees straight out, but impair them so much they can’t function in the hive hierarchy. In other words they get really ‘buzzed’. Imagine trying to do your job after huffing on a bag of glue. I could say more, but I will refrain. Just try to imagine a world without fruits, nuts, and veggies. That is a world without bees.