Sunday, April 14, 2013

Where Do Bees Come From?

Where do bees come from? A box! Pictured below is the box containing our first very-own bees.

Our First Bees
I got a phone call from the post office on Thursday morning, and at the other end of the line a nice lady, in a somewhat tense voice, asked that I please come pick up my bees as soon as possible. Now, actually. Right now.

So I went around to the back door of the post office as instructed and rang the bell, and the one person in the post office who WASN'T freaked out by the bees came to the door. It turned out that the bees were on a shelf outside, because they weren't especially welcome inside. The bees were just as you see them above, in a part wood, part screen container, so it was easy to see (and hear!) all the activity in there.

Joe built a top-bar hive last year to begin our beekeeping adventure, but he was out of town when the bees arrived, which meant that I had to open the box and put the bees into the hive myself.

I had a bee veil that went over a hat, and I put on one of Joe's long-sleeved white shirts and a pair of garden gloves for the big event.

The hardest part was prying the can of sugar-water out of the big hole at the top of the box. The can fit just exactly into the hole, so every time I pried up one bit of the edge, the opposite side slipped down into the box.

I finally got it, though, and was able to pull out the little cage that holds the queen. I hung her up in the hive, then poured all her little worker friends into the hive. They didn't all want to leave the box, so I left it right near the hive entrance, to make it easy for them to find their new home.

When Joe got back into town on Saturday evening, we went to check on the queen. She hadn't made it out of her little cage yet (the exit was blocked with a sugar-cube that the bees are supposed to eat through to release her), so Joe finished poking an exit-hole through the cube for her. A quick look around showed that the bees had been making comb, and we think that's a good sign.

Today, the bees all seem to be still there, which is good news. Sometimes a batch of bees will decide to find a different home than the one they were dumped into, and that would mean we'd have to start over with a new batch of bees. Wish us luck?

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