Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Bees Get a Home!!

It's official: I am now a Beekeeper!

Today is the day the bees get installed into their home! The picture above is the (empty) beehive. The white piece of wood is called an "entrance reducer." It minimizes the entrance to the hive because as a new hive, they don't have enough strength (bees) to defend the hive; the smaller hole is easier to defend. Once the bees multiply, I'll take it off later in the season.

The weather cooperated for the most part. It was a little sunny / partly cloudy, with temperatures in the low to mid 50s. There was no rain, thank goodness - bees get grumpy when it rains. The installation went off without any problems (meaning I didn't drop the package or the queen, nor did I get stung!). If you are interested, here's the installation process (11 1/2 minutes). Sorry the volume isn't very good - I didn't have a cameraman and I was not very close to the camera.

So the hive is all closed up and the bees who didn't get shook out will find their way up to the ramp. Here is a short video of the activity a few minutes later:

Also here are some more pictures (click on them to see larger versions). I have a gray bucket to the right which has water and styrofoam packing peanuts floating in it, to give the bees water if they want (they need something to land on or they will drown).

I put the wooden ramp there temporarily to let the bees have an easy time making it up to the hive (for those I couldn't shake out of the box - and there were quite a few!). I checked on them later in the afternoon and all had made it into the hive. There were a bunch of bees flying around the hive, just getting the lay of the land.

I'll leave things be for about a week to allow the queen to be released and to get established. They say that's the hardest part for new beekepers - let things alone for that first week. You want to get in there and look around!


  1. Nice video! I just watched it with my apiarist-to-be dad. I have 2 questions: 1) when a new queen hatches, how does she decide if she is going to start a swarm or challenge the existing queen? 2) Why did you smoke the bees if they have no honey to gorge on? Isn't the smoke supposed to make them gorge on honey to save it from a fire, which then makes them too full to sting?

  2. Those are good questions! Here's what I understand:
    1) In a swarm condition, generally the existing queen is the one who leaves. She will leave a couple of days before the new queen(s) hatch.

    2) You are right, the smoke causes them to gorge on hobey. But it also interferes with any alarm pheremone which the bees may emit if they get agitated. Besides, I'm a new beekeper, and don't know any better :-)

    Good luck with your Dad!


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