Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bee Package Installation


Apis Mellifera--Italian Honey Bees in a "package"
The activity is to dump all the bees out of this screen box into their new home.  The steps to doing this are as follows:

First thing is to pry off a small board on the top.  

Under the cover is a tin can full of syrup that the bees have had to eat during transit from Georgia.  

The next trick is to hold onto a small tab that is poking up while removing the can, thus exposing all the bees.  The tab is connected to  a tiny cage with the queen inside of it.  She is being kept apart from the workers as she is new to them and it takes some time to accept her as their supreme leader.

The metal tab connected to the queen cage is in my left  hand.  I've been wearing my gloves lately as I am developing a bigger localized reaction to each new sting--so I am trying to avoid as much stinging as possible.

Almost out.  Moving slowly so that I don't squish bees that have been hanging on that can.

This is the queen in her cage.  Her workers are covering her, feeding her and protecting her under there.  I slapped the cover board back over the hole so that the bees, mostly, are staying in the screen package.

All hail the Queen.  Long may she live.  This year she has a green dot painted on her.   This will help me find her, and to readily know if she has left and I have had a new queen put in her place.  The white matter in the bottom circle is a candy plug. The new queen will not have a dot(Please don't let me replay another year like last year, with the bees changing queens all summer!!!! Read about that here)

Shaking the bees

Such a rush of buzzing!!!!  The best!!

The frame on the right is a container with two meshed entrances that is filled with syrup for food.  I will also put on a "global patty," which is a protein/pollen food source for them.  They need help getting up and running and here in New England in mid-April (when the bees arrived) there is little pollen yet, and no nectar for them to eat.  In fact, we feed bees through a lot of the spring here.  And during mid-summer there is a time when there is no nectar also.   

Some are resistant to my thrashing, so I leave them to crawl out on their own.

I must look like the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters to the bees.  Not a sting during the whole process.  And J is doing the photography with just a veil.  No stings for him either.  So happy to have him take pictures.  
The queen cage is hung over a frame and she is left in her little prison.  One of her exits is blocked with some candy plug that can take a day or two for the workers to chew out.  By the time she is released, she is safely accepted as THEIR QUEEN.  A few days ago these bees were all just sucked into these packages and may have been from many different colonies with many different queens.  From now on they will work together under this one queen.
The metal band from which the cage hangs is visible on the top frame in this shot.  Once they can tell that the queen is inside the hive frames, they stand with their butts in the air, flapping their wings as fast as they can.  This is fanning.  They want everyone to smell her and come in with her.  I put on the covers and will check back in a few days to make sure she is released.   (She was not, so I pried off the candy and set her free.)  This was several weeks ago now, and things are going very well with this colony.  I opened it today and saw the queen, lots of open brood, and capped brood.  Nectar is flowing outside and pollen is crazy!!  They are collecting the brightest orange pollen ever.  

But we now have a neighborhood bear.  He tore open hives up the street and ripped down all my bird feeders--found one of them in the neighbors' ground cover.  More expense as we spent the weekend putting up an electric fence.  Pictures later.

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