Friday, May 7, 2010

Ahhh! I'm Covered in Bees!

Before I go into bees, I have to start with an introduction by my beloved, favorite comic of all time, Eddie Izzard. If you don't know who Eddie is, first off, shame on you. Second off, watch this:

Now, hopefully you've had a laugh.

We got our bees yesterday. Ben brought them home from work.

In Crate

That is, approximately, 10,000 bees. I kid you not. There is a queen stuffed in there, in the middle, where they all seem to be hanging on.

I can't tell if you can see this or not, but the top 'row' of bees here are perfectly lined up against the top.

Lined Up

So, we (meaning Ben) set up the hive in the back of the property, then took the bees back. He decided on a veil but no gloves since he wanted to be able to feel things. I bought him a yard of wedding veil (snicker...) from Joanns.

The first step was to 'paint' all the bees with a sugar water solution.

This makes them eat it, and they gorge themselves and get full and happy. Theory says if their stomachs are gorged, they can't bend enough to sting you. Theory also says the sugar concentration puts them into a sort of stupor. Not sure how much I believe those, but we did it anyway.

Then we took out the sugar water can.
Sugar Water Out

This is what the bees eat when they are in transit, and while they're adjusting to their new hive. There's tiny holes poked in the can so they can get at it drop by drop.

The queen cage came next. Queens are always 'caged' because they normally don't 'belong' to the bees in the box. Chances are if they were left loose with the other bees, the workers would kill her because they wouldn't recognize her scent. By putting her in the cage, over time, the workers adjust to her and she can take over the real hive when it comes time to install.

The queen's 'cage' is plugged by a piece of sugar candy (think: marshmallow) that she slowly eats her way through. It's a gradual process to make sure the workers accept her.

Here's the cage, covered in bees:
Take Queen Out

And a close-up:

Queen Close-Up

I didn't get a shot of the queen herself, because Ben wanted to hurry things along.
He attached her cage to the inside of the hive, then got ready to empty the rest of the bees in after her.

The top came off!
Top Off

And.. SHAKE!

Shake Shake!

They fell onto the top of the hive. Look at all the little buggers!
Spilled Bees

After that, it was just putting the hive back together. Sooner or later the bees will realize they have a home, and start building comb. The queen will get out and start laying eggs.


Some of the bees stayed in the box, but they'll make their way in sooner or later. The queen will 'call' them.

We're really excited to see what next year brings. We will leave them alone this year so they can establish good comb and a good honey store to eat over the winter. Next year we'll crack it open and see what we have!