Not chickens but bee eggs.
When last I talked of bees, it was in the dead of winter and spring was a long time away. Well, spring has come and gone and the bees are here and settled in. It had been such a wet spring that the apiary where we were getting our bees was delayed so we waited almost a month later than expected to get our bees. We picked them up on the night of June 17 but it was starting to get dark by the time that we got them home so they sat on the deck overnight.
The next morning at 5 am just after the sun had risen, we started to install the bees. We figured that early in the morning, it was still a bit chilly and bees don’t move much when it’s chilly. Normally when you get a nuc, you put the frames in the nuc into the new hive. I was loathe to do this because I didn’t want to run the risk of importing viruses in the old wax that was on the frames. From Dancing Bee Apiaries, the chances were small but I wanted to make them nil. So I gently brushed the bees off each of the four frames and crossed my fingers that the queen made it into the hive.
It was a very uneventful process. We didn’t use smoke although the smoker was lit and I did give them one puff. This got them buzzing a lot louder which is not surprising since smoke means fire and that alarms us all. We decided to use the sugar water that we had in a spray bottle. Joyce gave each frame a spritz when I was ready to brush the bees into the hive. They immediately became more interested in grooming themselves than in us. While sugar water works, it’s sticky, sticky, sticky.
Transferring frames Ready to brush bees into hive
Note the fancy, high-priced equipment – bread knife, paint brush (very soft), rubber gloves, Jimi Hendrix sweat shirt, home made bee veil, stinky gardening hat.
Since then, we’ve left them alone other than to put a container of sugar water on top of the hive. There was to-ing and fro-ing so we knew that the bees were still in the hive. But that’s all we knew. As long as they continued to consume the sugar water, we figured that they were doing what bees do.
But we decided that we would check them today after 3 weeks. What we were looking for was comb (hopefully straight), little rogue or burr comb (comb that is drawn off the frame) or propolis (which meant that my carpentry was straight and that I’d maintained the 3/8″ bee space where it was supposed to be), and most importantly of all, egg cells. Egg cells and/or larvae would mean that there was a queen at work. Once again, we were up at first light before the bees really got active. Instead of sugar water, we decided to try plain water. It worked very, very well although the bees were extremely quiet, so quiet that we could have worked without veils. There was very little buzzing and very few bees took to the air.
We were blown away by what we found – 6 frames in various stages of comb production, cells with honey, cells with larva, capped cells with larva, and very straight comb. And there was no burr comb and propolis only where they had been sealing cracks.
This is the first frame closest to the entrance. It has the most comb drawn. They have begun to attach comb to the right side of the frame but not yet on the bottom. Each of the next five frames has progressively less comb. Even the sixth frame has a fair bit of comb.
A big thanks to Greg and Gord at Seldom Fools for encouraging us, to Dennis Murrell for the hive design, to Michael Bush for having the patience to answer some really dumb questions about foundationless beekeeping, and finally to Todd at Dancing Bee for his great bees.
More pictures here.