Saturday, April 20, 2013

The First Bees Are Home!

They’re in the hive! I picked up a nice 5-frame nuc from a great local beekeper (Bee Healthy Honey Farm) yesterday evening around 6pm. Turns out he’s also a pilot! We ended up talking about bees, aviation, and entrepreneurship for about an hour. A bit longer than I expected, but very cool. He’s only a year into beekeeping, yet already breeding queens/nucs and getting small pollination contracts. Very motivating! Afterwards, I hustled to the bee yard and ended up arriving around 7:40. By that time it was getting a bit dark out, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any pictures. I decided to leave them overnight in the nuc to get acclimated to their new location and then check on them the next day to see if they were populated enough to move to the hive box. I spent three days assembling and painting two deeps, a telescoping cover, and the base board. Needless to say I was excited to see if they’d accept my handiwork!

So today, after a 9am orientation at my new job, I went out to the bee yard and transferred my new Italian-Carniolan nuc to their new hive body. While I was walking up I noticed plenty of traffic to and from the hive! It was all routes to/from the hive in generally straight lines so it wasn’t the other club hives robbing mine. Once I got a little closer I could see a good number of bees entering the hive with little yellow/orange/white pollen packs on their legs. This queen runs a tight ship. I dig it!

Here in South Florida it’s been high 80s (and what felt like 90s in the sun), so I was sweating like a beast once suited up in the jacket with attached veil. On the upside, I’m sure my pores are the cleanest they’ve been in months. I did somehow forget my hive tool and had to do some manipulating of frames by hand etc. I definitely won’t be forgetting that again and am thinking of picking up some leather to fabricate a tool holster. After 30mins all of the nuc frames were transferred over to deep I built, and somehow wrangled all of the remaining bees from the nuc into the hive box (or in the air around it). It was pretty incredible standing in a small cloud of bees, handling the frames, and even having one drink a drop of sugar syrup off my bare finger! I was also able to find the queen while transferring frames. She’s a beautiful golden brown with a fresh fuzzy vest. The queen cup was still embedded in the comb and no natural queen cells were visible.

Oh, after about 15mins I took my gloves off. It was too awkward without a hive tool and the bees were nice and calm. Enough so, that I felt comfortable enough to be cautiously adventurous. No stings! Once they were all settled in I let them be for ten minutes and cooled off in the shade. Afterwards I went back in just jeans and shirt to watch them for a bit. A few inspected me for no more than 3 seconds before being on their way. It’s really relaxing just to watch them go about their business and see a new hive’s workers come back with full pollen baskets. I have high hopes for this already vibrant queen.

Hive Notes: No apparent varroa, no hive beetles, 4 frames of bees, 4 frames of brood (eggs, larvae, capped brood, very solid laying pattern with negligible amounts of empty cells), 3/4 frame of honey and pollen (yellow/white/pink/orange pollen, 1/6 capped honey), approx 15% of sugar syrup consumed, about 15 dead bees at the bottom of the nuc… but from the state of them it’s because I crushed them last night while replacing the nuc lid in the dark :(