April 6, 2010

The Bees are Here

Today we became caretakers of honey bees. The bees came in a cage, roughly the size of a large shoebox, and arrived at a supply store in Gresham. They were due to arrive yesterday however, a snow storm on the pass delayed the shippment by a few hours. So my dad headed down to the store today while I was at work. Apparently hundreds of people are adding honey bees this year. Dad said there was a steady line, dozens deep, to pick up cages and nucs of bees.

I met dad our here at our place. What a crappy day to bring the bees home - rainy, windy, cold - so we had to move fast. Step one, add some more nails to the frames (we learn in the class that the frames get really heavy and sticky and can come apart). The cage of bees was left in the car during this step. Next we had to get the queen's cage, as smaller cage with just queen inside, out of the larger cage. But first we had to whack the cage to make the bees drop to the bottom. Guess what, whacking the cage makes the bees a little unhappy. The larger cage had a tin can of sugar water in, which we removed to get inside and pull out the queen's cage and some of the angry bees escaped. Dad was stung on his finger but me and Jordan were unharmed.

With the queen out, and there were about 10-15 'attendant' bees on the outside of her cage, we had to remove the cork in her cage and replace with a marshmallow. (The other bees will eat through the marshmallow in a few days and during that time accept the queen vs killing her.) Dad pulled the cork and I shoved the marshmallow in, too hard and it went all the way in. Fortunately this was anticipated and we had a second marshmallow. This time I just plugged the opening. With some contorting into the hive, dad was able to tack the queens cage in the middle of the frames (see picture).

Next came the fun part - shaking the bees out of the cage and into the hive (see pictures). To entice the bees and maybe keep them from getting so pissed off, we spray sugar-water inside the hive. That worked great. Instead of swarming around, the bees landed in the hive and smelled the food - yum, yum - went right to eatting. Dad was stung again but it was because the bee got caught between his wrist and watch. After much whacking and shaking of the cage, we finally got most of the bees into the hive and put the frames back in careful not the squish the bees.

Interesting fact - bees don't pee and poop in their home. So during this disruption they took the opportunity to releave themselve. Dad got lots of poops on him. There was even bee poop on my camera.

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