Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Beeginning of a New Adventure: The Bees Arrived!

Our Bee T.A.R.D.I.S.
Last Wednesday found me busily preparing for some very special additions to our homestead — honey bees! I needed to make sure their new home was prepared: boxes painted and dried, frames assembled and placed in the bottom box, sugar syrup mixed and ready to go, the "bee yard" tidied up and ready. Of course I had all this done days ago, but in my excitement I had to check and recheck. (Or was that my OCD?)

Because of all the excitement (mine), the Boy and I didn't get many of our academic subjects in that day. But learning about bees counts as school, right? The day seemed to take forever. But, finally, it was time to head to bee class where the bees for the participating students, plus those of a few other folks, would arrive from Georgia. 

Here is an abbreviated photo essay of the process of emptying the packages into our hives.

Bee packages in the back of the van

Karen getting her bees from Ron, while a classmate looks on.

Girls and Bees

 Ok, so the bees arrived...Now what? Our teacher, Jeremy, very patiently (This man has infinite patience!) demonstrated how to get them from the package box into our hives.

Spray with sugar syrup
Remove top, then can of syrup

Check for the she alive?
Yes she is!
Remove the cork on the fondant side

Place the queen cage in between two frames, with the escape hole up.

Queen cage placed!
Replace frames

Shake it, Shake it, Shake it! (Shake your groove thing...)
See them waggle! No it wasn't the refrain to "Shake Your Groove Thing"
that made them waggle. It's what they do to signal to others, "Hey Ladies! This is our home!"

Any questions?
Just the experience of watching Jeremy empty those bees into the hive was amazing! There were bees flying everywhere—bumping into faces, arms, fingers. Yet they were so gentle. Apparently this is because they don't have anything to defend yet. Once they get some brood and honey in their frames, I'm sure they'll be more defensive. None of the humans panicked and most of us observed and then worked our own packages without protective gear. A fellow beekeeper brought some home made mead to sample, so maybe that helped bolster confidence!

Some of the folks in the class were nonchalant about handling their bees. For a few, it was a major triumph to do this without panicking; these are stinging insects and to have thousands of them flying around can be quite intimidating. Karen, a few other classmates, and I laughed and joked our way through it all. It was a festive atmosphere...our bee party.

Karen opens her box

Popping the cork

The bees enter the T.A.R.D.I.S.

Bee on a classmate. We were all covered in sugar syrup!

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