Yesterday morning the post office called to say our bees had arrived, so we jumped in the car, excited as little kids. We'd decided to become beekeepers last June while hiking in the Pyrenees, where it seemed every house had a couple of hives out back. In October, we'd ordered the bees as an anniversary present to ourselves. Finally the bees were here!
My husband gave me this lovely card before we left to pick up our charges.
We put the bees in the basement where it was cool and dark and sprayed them first with water, then with sugar syrup, which had a calming effect. Don't try this on your children, however.
In the late afternoon we were ready to move the bees into their hives. Notice the electric fencing. Bears are around, and we all know about bears and honey!
The queen for each package arrived in a cage, which included a few attendants. I thought I had a clear shot of the queen (she is marked with a tiny white sticker), but a bee photo-bombed it! We removed a tiny cork from the bottom of the queen cage to reveal the candy plug. The bees will eat the candy, releasing the queen into the hive.
The moment of truth. Richard dumped some of the bees over the queen and the rest in the open space we created by removing a few of the honeycomb frames.
Here Richard is replacing the frames--slowly, so the bees move out of the way! The bees were very busy but not at all aggressive. That strip of metal is supporting the queen cage. When we check the hives in a week's time, we'll make sure the queen is out and remove it.
In addition to provide our spoiled bees with ready-made honeycomb and hand-painted accommodation, we started them off with a stocked pantry--a gallon bag of sugar syrup.
A few bees showed a keen interest in reading the beekeeping manual and were shocked to learn we plan to use a smoker the next time we visit.
Success! We'll leave them in peace for a week, then see how they are doing and give them more syrup. There may even be some eggs--more bees!
Happy spring, everyone, and have a bee-utiful day.