May 12, 2010

Bees Take Two

The first round of bees didn't work out too well. After consulting with some experts, here is what most likely happened. We purchase a top-feeder. This is necessary because the first few months the bees don't have enough food to survive. So you put a feeder, filled with sugar water, in the hive. There are many different types of feeders, even homemade ones that work well. My dad had purchase a top feeder that sits on top of the frames. The bees come up to the feeder, crawl over the outside edge and eat. The problem is, in the spring it is really cold and damp here in the Pacific Northwest. To keep warm the bees hang out in the middle of the frames, all together. They don't move to the outside frames and they don't move to the bottom or top - it's just too cold. Bottom line, our first bunch of bees starved because they were too cold to move and find the feeder. Come to find out that the local bee supply stores don't sell top feeders for this exact reason. We had gotten our top feeder online.

New rule of thumb, purchase farm supplies, of any kind, from local stores only.

Today, the second round of bees came. Dad purchased a frame feeder - it sits down between the frames, in the middle. Plus this time we got a 'nuc'. A nuc is a wooden box, with frames and bees. The bees have been living in the frames for a while and have developed comb. You simply remove some frames from the hive and place the nuc frames into the hive. Add the feeder and whoala, you are ready to go.

Jordan came down to help. It's funny because Jordan and I, in fact my whole family, aren't afraid of bees. We like to feed the yellow jackets bits of meat after BBQ's. But there is something visceral that happens when there are a few hundred bees flying about you. Dad got dudded up in his gear. He opened the nuc and those bees took off. They won't got to the bathroom in their home and they had been cooped up for a while, so they really, really needed out. My instant reaction was to back up, make Jordan back up and watch from a distance. Which we did. Once the frames were transferred from the nuc into the hive, the bees chilled out and we got closer.

It was not easy for dad to work alone on the bees because he didn't want to hurt them and wearing gloves, coat, hat, etc. makes it hard. I'm going to have to buy dudds so I can get in and help out. Such fashionable clothing - maybe they come in a nice cornsilk blue or sage green.

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