And now I am a beekeeper. I began learning casually about beekeeping, BC. My third Cornell Cooperative class was canceled due to isolation policies. So I took to the internet and books. Initially my thought was this might be nice to do sometime in the future. And then I found myself with time on my hands. We all know I don’t have enough hobbies.
So I ordered the hive parts and kept reading. I placed my order on the first day the supplier, Betterbee, began working exclusively from home so it was a memorable experience. The hive and accessories arrived and I gradually prepared them. I stained all the exterior parts. And kept reading. I ordered my supply of bees. And kept reading. There is an amazing amount to learn about the bees themselves and the beekeeping. I installed the foundation, a honeycomb like surface, in 40 frames. And kept reading.
I tried to figure out how to put on the helmet and veil. No easy task. I lit my smoker to make sure I could use it when needed, The smoke interferes with the bees’ communication and makes it “easier” to work with them.
I received notice that my bees had arrived and I could drive an hour and a half south to pick them up. Temperatures were predicted to be cold here, below freezing some nights, but I was assured the bees would do fine. They clump together to keep the queen and young brood warm. So there was no putting it off.
I made the journey south yesterday. The nuc (nucleus colony of bees including a queen and a few frames of honey and about 10,000 worker and drone bees) was packed in a bag, I put in my trunk and began the ride home. My beekeeping gear was in the car in case some disaster befell us on the way home. But none did.
Tim readied himself with the camera while I geared up. First step, get the box out of the trunk – all that buzzing – and get the bag off the box. Made me glad that a) the box was in a bag, since many had escaped out of the box; and b) the box was in the trunk!! First step not too bad. Hundreds of bees made their way out of the box while I finished getting things ready.
I brought sugar syrup, to feed them until nectar starts flowing, out to the hive and made room in the lower box for the new frames with bees.
Then came the scary part. Once my smoker was smokin’ I lifted the lid off the nuc and gave it a puff to clear the bees off the top of the frames. Then, with buzzing around my veil, I pulled the first frame out and transferred it to the hive.
I tried to keep my movements smooth and calm, but there was a lot of noise around me. At some point, I realized my smoker had tipped over and little flames were trying to lick the grass; I will have to improve my smoker stand for next time. Things went quickly and it was too cold to spend much time looking at each frame.
I had to “shake” the rest of the bees that weren’t on frames into the hive and some on the grass. I put the last frame in, added the sugar feeder and tucked things in for the night.
When I went back an hour or so later, all the bees had made it into the hive, through a tiny opening in the front. The entrance is “reduced” as you get things started to try to prevent them all from getting up and leaving (I think).
I went to check on them first thing this am. It was 37 degrees f but the sun was already on the hive. Not a sound. One dead bee in front. I hope they haven’t flown the coop. Or perhaps that can be my next hobby.