Friday, May 27, 2016

minivan taxi service

I installed a package hive a few weeks ago, that colony a bunch of worker bees and an unrelated queen, arriving in a box and dumped into an empty, though built out by a past colony, hive.  A package colony has the work of getting to know each other, of waiting for the queen to get to work laying eggs, then waiting for those eggs to grow into bees and then for those bees to be old enough to fly before things really get going.  It's a longer more tenuous process, a package of bees, and the bees come from the South and have adaptations to that climate, rather than to what we have up here in the North.  

This year I also purchased a nucleus colony from Phil and Meghan Gaven at the Honey Exchange.  I can't tell you how excited I am about this.  These bees are a small colony of Maine made, Phil made, overwintered bees, their small hive box bursting with an existing colony of bees and brood and supplies already, and ready to grow, once they are placed in a full sized hive.  I headed to the Honey Exchange to pick them up.  I swear they have the best use of a backyard deck at their store I have ever seen.  

I didn't quite get the timing right, and I needed to head straight for school to pick up the kids.  I placed the hive box, on loan from the Gavens, next to my bee equipment and the lacrosse sticks and game snacks and drove like mad across the city.  Despite covering the hive with a blanket to disguise it from the four children in the car, I really wish I had a picture of the looks I glimpsed in the rear view mirror when they figured out that they were belted and trapped inside a minivan with a sizable box of bees.  That was humming.  Loudly.   

Kids deposited at their warm up, Elliott and I drove like mad, again, this time toward home.  And I got to work getting the nuc down to the beeyard.  

I popped it on top of the full hive stand that it would be going into, admired it for a few moments, grabbed Elliott, and we made it back in time to watch the lacrosse game while we sipped water on a blanket in the shade.  No one would have known what we had been doing moments before.

Next day, I headed back down to the beeyard.  I took a quick peek into the package hive and found eggs and larva and capped brood in the cells.  This was a good sign.  The queen is not only alive therefore, but she is mated and laying.  

The nuc bees were out and flying.  I needed to move them from the small nucleus colony hive to a full sized one.  I got to work, transferring two boxes of five frames into two boxes of eight frames, with the added frames having built out foundation (comb) and having some honey and pollen in them already from past colonies.

I missed the queen as I worked, and I kind of wanted to spot her, just to feel a little more confident that all was well.  I found her.  Eventually.  She's wearing the blue dot in the pictures below.

I even made it back to school on time to pick up the kids.  I met Jonathan in the streets near school.  He had a box with our four newest chicks inside, just having picked them up from the farm store.  I took that peeping box from him and headed home to get them under the heat light.  And he snatched the borrowed nuc box out of the back of my car and headed to the Honey Exchange on his way to piano lessons.

Because in May and June?  That's just how we roll.

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