Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The bees arrive!

The bees arrived today, two packages of Italians. Brenda and the kids picked them up at Joe's farm. Joachim came over and suited up; I wore a veil and a fleece jacket. The fleece was a mistake I will not repeat again. It was quite cold, in the forties, and I suggested waiting for tomorrow, but Joe had told Brenda he would not wait, so we did not.

I opened the first package and took out the queen. She was alive and had a white dot. (I thought this was supposed to be a green year?) We put a bread tie around her package, pulled the cork, and laid her on the top of the frames. We put in the upside down bucket with the screened hole in the lid, which was on the bottom. And we dumped in some of the bees. This was a lively bunch that immediately took flight and swarmed around my head. I tried to ball up the remainder of the bees and dump them in, but wound up spilling most of them on the ground. Joachim scooped them up with his hands and dumped them in. He was very cool; I was freaking out. We put on the covers, and thus began the Saint Valentine hive, i.e., the western hive.

We did not have a bread tie for the second queen cage, so Brenda went inside to fetch one. While she was away, Joachim figured out a way to mount the cage by bending some of its excess screen. So in  went the queen, and in we dumped the second package. It all went smoothly without drama. We were closing up the hive by the time Brenda came back with the bread ties. She was miffed to have missed a successful installation, but I was just glad to be done with it. What an emotionally intense experience. The kids were thrilled, I was exhausted, and no-one got stung. And thus began our second hive, the Saint Benedict hive, to the east of Saint Valentine's.

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