Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hive Talkin'

With sweaty palms, a stomach full of butterflies and trepidation knocking my knees together, I attempted my very first hive installation yesterday. I read and reread the process from three different books and trust me, it was more of a stall tactic than preparedness but when push came to shove, I was organized and ready, if not raring, to go.

The evening before, the Artist and I drove a few concessions over from the old farmhouse at the appointed rendezvous time of 9pm,  as assigned by the beekeeper's wife to bring our babies home. When we arrived we quickly realized  their property was cloaked with more mosquitoes than bees so our conversations were brief and clipped with swats to the left, swats to the right, and swats up and all around. It may have looked like we were doing the Macarena. Quite possibly. When I asked him if I should install the hive when I got home, he stared at me with disbelief for about three seconds before shouting "No, no, they'll eat you alive!" So you can see why I was a little hesitant when it actually came time to do the deed.

The photo above shows the basic hive, which right now is just the brood box, where the queen lays the eggs or brood, and resting on it is the nuc box, where the bees spent their first night at the old farmhouse.
For the past two years I've pictured a cute white beehive sitting across the pond, but after some discussions at the beekeeping course, I attended, about paints, chemicals and future legal requirements for hives, I decided to go as natural as I could and put a few coats of linseed oil on all the outer surfaces, which was much easier and faster than painting, although it will likely require more upkeep. Once the smoker remained lit, which was a feat itself, it was time to open the nuc box.

The bees started coming out in droves, and their constant buzzing was much louder than I expected but they weren't aggressive and I felt completely relaxed around them. Being covered from head to toe, may have had a little something to do with that. Or a lot.

My main goal was to transfer them to the new hive as quickly as possible without squishing any of the bees. It's recommended that the frames remain in the same order in the hive as they were in the nuc box. I also wanted to check for the queen. I'm fairly certain that I found her on the second frame, but it's not easy finding her and my experience is more than limited leaving me to second guess myself. Time will quickly tell in the meantime my fingers are crossed tightly.
Once the the frames were nestled in the new home, I set up a jar feeder to provide the bees a sugar-water feed. It's important that they have enough food to build up new comb on the new frames and there isn't always enough pollen to ensure they will have enough.

Quite a few bees remained in the nuc box, much more than I expected. I hated to leave them outside the hive but most sources recommend just leaving the box nearby and the bees will eventually make their way over to their new home. Sure enough, by the next morning, all but one had made her way over. I ceremoniously delivered the last one on my bee brush, gently dropping her off on the landing board and watched as she quickly scurried into the hive.  It was then that I considered how odd it seems that these wild animals are relying on me for their survival.
After two days, they have depleted two thirds of the sugar water mixture and they're bringing in pollen. It's a treat to watch them coming and going, laden with pollen. The landing board today looked busier than Toronto airport and no air traffic controllers were needed!


Here's to the revival of the honey bee and another Rural Revival at it's best.
~~~~~~
I'm linking to:
Farmgirl Friday
Photo Story Friday
Homestead Barn Hop


~Bee well friends!~

24 comments:

Red Gate Farm said...

Andrea this is so cool! I've never seen anything quite like this and look forward to hearing more about your bees... and their honey.

I can imagine that you were a bit nervous putting yourself into the midst like that, I certainly would be :)

~Chris

MarieElizabeth said...

How interesting! I've seen some places that have many hives already installed, but I've never see the beginning stages. Can't wait to hear more about these guys.

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

YEAH ANDREA...you did it!!!
You looks so cute in your bee suit and so relaxed in the pictures...I think you're a natural bee keeper ;) Good luck and I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of your first jar of honey! Have a wonderful Friday.
Maura :)

Amy @ Homestead Revival said...

Wonderful, Andrea! I hope your bees fair better than mine. I'm sure I've lost them now to robbing. But since you have a nuc I'm sure it will be much better. Also, don't stop feeding them just because they're bringing in pollen - my grand mistake!

By the way, I just love your photos! The color is so rich and clean looking! Is Canada really that green? If so, I'm moving north!! (Just kidding!)

teekaroo said...

Beautiful pictures! I want to keep bees someday because I love that home-grown honey, but I'm scared to death!

ain't for city gals said...

You are a brave girl than I....and your bee suit is cute!lol...between bees and chickens I'm thinking I don't have a chance being self reliant...

texwisgirl said...

NEAT!!! Congrats to you! I hope the prosper!

Flat Creek Farm said...

Congratulations, Andrea!! You look wonderful and very professional in your bee suit. The only thing I have done without any protection (which we don't even have yet!) is refill the sugar water - and take pics of course. I find them to be very calming so far (amazingly). I love your set-up.. and I'm going to have to research what a nuc is (hanging head in embarrassment!). We got our second box installed today, and I am told to discontinue the sugar water Tuesday. However, after reading Amy's woes... I am scared to do that! Here's to a wonderful revival of bees at your place! -Tammy

Jocelyn said...

Congratulations! I installed my first hive last month, and though I was also very nervous, I find that I am really enjoying working with the bees and it's very calming. I bet you will too. Good luck!

Buttons said...

Oh I am as excited as you are. Good Luck this will be fun. B

Windy Meadows Farm said...

What a great post! This is going to be a terrific adventure for you...and you're more than ready! I'm looking forward to reading more...how exciting! - Mary

MJ said...

This is awesome Andrea!! I am seeing more and more hives everywhere and that makes me so happy!! Can't wait to see your hive thrive!!

Lisa said...

You are so brave!! I want to get bees so bad, but my hubby and son are petrified of them. So for the time being it's a no go.

Some day, some day....

I'm hoping when I retire I'll get bees since I'll have more time. It might also just be a stalling tactic..heh heh.

Lisa

Jackie said...

This is so neat Andrea. I love reading about all you Bee folks. I look forward to more of your bee stories.

Jackie

Carole said...

Cool!

Starting a hive is something that hubby and I have seriously thought about. Up until this year we hadn't experienced the depleted bee visitations that we've been reading about. This year is different. So far our visiting numbers are much lower. Where we used to see the rhodies completely abuzz with bumbles, honey, and mason bees, now we see few of anything.

I'll have to show hubby this post.

Thanks for sharing. :-)

Feral Female said...

Impressive! You`ve got more moxie than I do woman! =)

Anke said...

Great pictures! I wish I could convince my family to try beekeeping, but so far they are not on board with that idea.

Nancy said...

This is great information. Although I doubt I'll ever have bees, at least I know how you do it. Good luck with this new endeavor!

Elle Bee said...

This is SO.AWESOME!!!!!! I'm so excited/proud/in awe of you!!!

"Here's to the revival of the honey bee and another Rural Revival at it's best."

AMEN!

Dog Trot Farm said...

Andrea, you are a very brave women! A wonderful post, bees are so fascinating, I look forward to future posts. BTW you look very professional in your bee suit!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

How exciting! I've always wanted bees.

Elizabeth (Blue Clear Sky) said...

What an interesting read, Andrea. But I must tell you that although I have been fascinated with bees since elementary school lessons, and I realize their importance, the little critters make me very nervous. Not creeped out like wasps, but nervous. It is lovely to see more of them this year than in past years too. You are a good steward and I applaud your bravery.

Phyllis said...

Hi Andrea,

I think this is my first visit to your blog.

I've been wanting to have a bee hive for quite some time now, but am so terribly intimidated. Maybe I'll look into it as the bees sure need our help.

I hope your new little friends remain healthy and productive. Do you have plans for their honey, or are you just letting them keep it?

from my front porch... said...

I am so very proud of you! Yay! You did it! I can's wait to see more pics and read more words!

And many years from now, when we are old women....

You go girl!
xo, misha
LYLAS