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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 5/2/2020

Today was a glorious day indeed--our new batch of bees arrived!


Folks might recall that it's been a bit since I posted about the sad loss of our bees in February, and that's because of a couple of things that basically started messing up Reality.  The emergence of COVID-19 messed up a heck of a lot of plans and all of my schedules got tossed to one side....my hours basically went almost to six days a week with longer hours for most of April, and the run on grocery stores made us skip a couple of weekends of shopping just to avoid the crazy a bit.  Then I had to arrange the refill of the propane, and then Colleen said that the bees were coming a week earlier than I'd planned...and here we are!


The bees this time came in what's called a "package", and it's basically a three pound box of bees with a big assed can of sugar water in it for them to feed on while traveling.  The queen is kept in a small cage that's hung inside the hive; the bees themselves (which are measured by weight; they definitely don't count them!) can be from several different hives.  They are all acclimated to the queen by her scent; she's been with them for a while before they are shipped.

So basically it's pretty easy to get the bees into the super (the hive box)....you "thump" the box a couple of times, which causes them to all fall down to the bottom of the box.  then you pull out the can of sugar water, upend the box, and basically "pour" the bees into the super!  It sounds more dramatic than it really is and I found it was remarkably easy to do (Colleen couldn't be there so it was all me). After "pouring" the bulk of the bees into the hive I carefully inserted the last few comb frames into the super....there were still some bees left in the box, of course, but I just set it near the hive where eventually they all climbed out and flew home to the hive (they can all smell the queen, so they knew she was in there).

Other than spilling a bunch of the sugar water from the can I really didn't have any problems, and by the evening they were all gone from the box and I removed it.

One of the mistakes we very probably made last year was not making sure the bees had enough food, so this year Colleen was ready with what's called a "top level" feeder (pic below) for the hive.  When I put things together I put that in as well, and filled them up with a couple of gallons of sugar water.  They took to it quite nicely (pics below); basically they climb up thru a hole on the top level of the  hive into a "half height" super into the bottom of the feeder.  There's a plastic cup molded into the body of the feeder which they climb up and then down to the sugar water; the plastic cup allows you to see what they're doing without them being able to get out (where they would promptly fall into the water and drown if they could).  It sounds more complicated than it is; take a look at the picture and it'll make sense.

Before we did any of the bee stuff I took the time to mount the hive on wheels so I could move it if necessary.  Of course I got wheels that I could "lock" so it wouldn't be moved around by the wind.  I had to search a bit to find wheel that would safely bear the weight, not so much with the hive as is but if we eventually have three or four supers that's going to be several hundred pounds of honey and whatnot.  Best to plan ahead here....at the very least I know that the time will come that I'll be working up there building a greenhouse, and I'll want to be able to move them then!

We're so glad we've got bees again, and we're going to go all out to make sure they don't run out of food this year, that's for sure!  Fingers and miscellaneous appendages...


Steven in Colorado

Photos

The bees in their bee box, ready to put into their new home. They're actually amazingly calm considering what they've been through.
Their future home! You can see the primary super (box) on the bottom, with the half-height one containing the feeder on the top.
The feeder with its lid on....
...and the feeder with the lid off. The bees will be inside the upside down cup (the clear part) when I put them in and fill it with the sugar water.
Another picture after I unboxed the bees. You can see the (mostly) empty box on the floor in front of the hive, along with the can (still dribbling sugar water).
About an hour after I'd unboxed the bees I opened up the top to see if the bees had found the sugar water....they HAD! :)


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