May 12, 2014
I guess I'm a beekeeper: Package Installation
I got my Carniolan bee packages from Hansen Honey Farm in Rhinelander on May 10th and promptly drove them to Coleman for installation. Two, 3 pound packages with an Italian queen in each. (Apparently the Carniolan queens weren't looking that great. It's a good thing I don't know the difference.)
To start, I removed a frame out of the middle of each hive. Since I have 8 frames, I took out frame 5 (counting from the left). That was to leave room for the queen in her queen cage. Next, I popped out the feeder can (filled with sugar syrup for the transport from California to Wisconsin), and slid out the queen cage. First was Amelia. I "inspected" her. Since she was buzzing around angrily, I decided she was good to go. (Because really, as long as she wasn't dead, what else do I know?)
I took out the cork at the bottom of the cage, replaced it with a mini marshmallow, and hung the cage with the hole side down from the top of frame 5 in the middle of the hive. (It's not a great photo, but I was shooting it blind because I had my bee veil on. But it at least gives you the idea of where the hole is and how I shoved the marshmallow into it.)
Next, I sprayed the bees with a 1:1 sugar water syrup. This weighs them down so they don't want to fly, but supposedly also helps stimulate each of them to begin grooming one another, creating a more hospitable and cohesive hive group. After I felt that they were sufficiently sprayed, I lifted out the can of syrup, bonked the whole container hard once to get them to fall down to the bottom, and then turned the box over and shook the bees into the hive. (There is very little finesse with this approach, for sure.)
Then I threw a pollen patty on top (to feed the larvae once Amelia begins laying eggs), added another box above them with a gallon of sugar syrup I'd made up (I'll do this until the hive starts growing and things start blooming and the workers can find their own sweetness in the world), put an entrance reducer at the front to prevent the need to guard the hive so heavily and to keep robber bees out, and closed it up. I left the containers I shook them out of near the front of the hive so any remaining hanger-onners could come out at their leisure. (I'll get rid of those next week.)
Then I repeated the process with Beatrix, my second queen. (Why yes, I did name my bees.) She seemed less angry than Amelia, but the bees seemed to respond just as positively to her.
And that was it. My first installation.
I actually questioned if I did something really wrong because it went so smoothly and easily. I'm going to head back next weekend to see if the queens are freed from their cages and laying any eggs. (And if I did do it correctly!)
It's a good thing they're so far away, because I'm really curious as to how they're doing!
at 5:30 AM