This is a guest post from petticoat prepper this is Part two of her series she wrote for MD Creekmore.
The big day has arrived; your bees are ready for pickup! I was both nervous and excited when mine came. Something I wish I’d had and will for this next group of bees is a sprayer bottle of water. You know those plastic plant misters? It was hot the day mine came and I picked up in my car. The girls rode in the trunk.
I was worried about them over heating and stopped often to cool them down. I was afraid some police officer would see me on the side of the freeway fanning my open trunk frantically and think something was amiss…. I think lightly spraying them may have helped. They use their wings as fans and boy were they trying to cool down. When you pick up your bees be sure to get a container of Terramycin.
American and/or European Foulbrood isn’t something you want. Make sure you’re getting bees from a seller with a good reputation. If they get American Foulbrood your bees and hives will most likely need to be destroyed. I gave the girls two tablespoons shaken over them when I first hived them. After that you treat spring and fall, follow the package directions. Also pick up some pollen patties to feed them as this will give them a good start. Your hive should be set up already.
You’ll only need one deep super for now. The bees will build up and you want to make them almost fill each super before adding another. Store your second deep and the honey supers until later in the season. When you arrive home with them place the box near the hive unless it’s raining then put them out of the wind and rain. Give them a spray of water and let them sit. They can stay in the box for a day or two just be sure to spray with water off and on. The can hanging inside is their food. This day or two of rest will give them time to become acquainted with their queen.
Each queen has her own pheromone scent and there maybe some confusion during shipping as many boxes of bees will have been shipped together thus mixing the pheromone scents. You will need to feed them at first until they have their house set up. 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. Bring your water to a boil turn off heat and add sugar, stir until dissolved, cool completely. This will be the food for them. Pour into canning jars or old mayo jars and screw into the plastic feeder.
Now let’s get ready to hive your bees hopefully on a sunny day with no wind. First, take a shower. Don’t use scented soaps, perfume, cologne or deodorants. Take off any rings just in case you get stung, don’t want to have your favorite ring cut off a swollen finger. If you do get stung, scrape off the stinger never pull it out as there are venom sacks and you’ll only add to the amount in the bite. Stay calm and smoke around yourself quickly. There is a pheromone released by the bee when it stings that signals others to follow and defend the hive; smoke and step away for a minute.
Ok, the smoker is working nicely with cool puffs of smoke and you’re showered and ready to don your official outfit. Sprinkle some baby powder on your hands, according to the dummies book the bees like it. I figure it helps for sweaty palms. Dress in your beekeeper suit making sure to close any openings at ankles, neck and wrists. Take your hive tool, sugar water sprayer and smoker with you; spray the girls with the sugar/water mix. Don’t saturate them but give them enough to get them busy cleaning each other. Pick up the box and give it a sharp rap or two on the ground to force the bees to drop to the bottom. See the little wooden cage inside the box of bees?
This is your queen bee and her attendants. You want to remove this box first. Locate the metal tab that hold this cage in place next to the can. Carefully pry the can of food up while holding onto the metal tab keeping the queen cage in place. Do Not Drop The Queen! Once the can is out, quickly remove the queen cage and replace the can in the box, don’t worry about the bees that escape they’ll stay near the queen. Remove one frame from your deep super and store until next week. Hopefully, the place you got your bees from gave you some mini marshmallows to plug the queen cage with. If not, I guess you’d better have bought some. The queen cage will have a candy plug in the end.
You want to remove this plug, use a screw to get a hold on and then gently pull out and replace with 2 mini marshmallows. Don’t let the queen or her attendants escape. Take a really good look at your queen; you’ll need to be able to locate her next week. If you managed to buy one that’s marked it’s a lot easier to find her. Once you replace the candy plug fit the queen cage between the two middle frames. There is generally a metal tab on her cage that you can bend over the top of one frame to help secure it in place; if not then wedge between the two frames in the middle. Make sure to angle the plug end up in case one of the attendants dies so its body doesn’t block the queen’s escape route. Also, be sure the screened side is facing down so the bees can bring her food.
The bees will eat through the marshmallows to free the queen. Once you’re sure you’ve got the queen secured, it’s time to let the bees out and into their new home. If they are very active inside the box, spray them again and rap box to drop them to the bottom. Pry out the feed can and set aside. Then shake and pour the bees over the queen’s cage. Some will stay in the hive around the queen and others will fly around. Stay calm and work slowly; it’s scary to be surrounded by this many bees but remember, they are looking for the queen right now and have no honey to defend.
You can give puffs of smoke around to help calm them if needed. Once you have most of the bees out of the box sit it at the entrance to the hive, opening facing up. The remaining bees will smell the queen and move into the hive. If they are very active you can smoke them to calm them down just don’t over kill with the smoke. Shake two tablespoons of the Terramycin over the bees and frame tops in the hive. Place half a pollen patty on top of the frames; you don’t need to remove the paper. Take the inner cover and starting at the back of the hive, slide it carefully into place.
This will allow the bees to move out of the way and you won’t squish any. Place the telescoping cover on top of that. Insert the plastic feeder with filled food jar into the front of the hive at the entrance. I find with the slope of my hive I have to shim the feeder to make it more level. If I don’t then the food seems to flood out instead of dripping out slowly.
The entrance reducer will most likely not fit with the feeder in place. Stuff the entry with grass or leaves to reduce the area leaving only about 2 inches of opening. This will give the girls a smaller spot to defend from invaders. They will remove this on their own as they feel more confident in their ability to defend their new home. Once you see they’ve done this you can clean the remaining grass and leaves out with your hive tool. You’ll use the entrance reducer later to help combat stealing. In the morning you’ll be able to remove the box and return it for the deposit. Congratulation! You’ve hived your first bees. Now leave them alone for the next week, no peeking. Just be sure to keep the food jar filled and enjoy their gentle hum. Part three will go over the types of bees in a hive, their jobs and your first inspection.