Author Topic: My first adventure in beekeeping  (Read 4340 times)

Offline MrsKK

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My first adventure in beekeeping
« on: April 09, 2012, 07:45:27 AM »
Warning - this is really long!  This is the first entry in my bee journal...


April 8, 2012
The Hiving of the Bees

Rachel being gone for the weekend and today being Easter, I knew I was on my own with getting the bees into the hive.  I read through the instructions in Beekeeping for Dummies once more, pulled myself up by my boostraps and geared up.

Michele had warned me that the packages didn’t have the typical piece of wood stapled over the can of syrup, so I took along an old plate to cover the opening.  I also took along a handful of marshmallows, knowing I would be a bit flustered and likely to drop them.  I had my tote all ready to go and headed out to do the deed.

A few bees escaped when I pulled the syrup can out of the package, but I wasn’t too worried.  They were buzzing around, seeming interested, but calm.  I was also very comforted by my bee jacket and veil but did not have gloves on.  I kept them in the tote, just in case I felt the need.

When I pulled the queen cage out of the larger package, I saw that I would regret not having my pocket knife along to pry the cork out of the end of the queen cage.  The capping fork worked just fine, though.  All ready to put the marshmallow in, imagine my horror when I realized that I had lost my queen!  Full of regret, I took a deep breath and moved onto the next step.

I thunked the package on the ground, as instructed, but it sure didn’t seem to shift the bees by much.  Oh, well, they need to get in the hive, so I poured/shook them in as best I could.  About a third of them were left, so I set the package in front of the hive, hoping they’d find their way in.  I put the frames I’d removed back into the hive body and used the bee brush to shoo the bees down into the frame, placed the pollen patty on top of the bars and gently slid the cover onto the hive, hoping I wasn’t smooshing any bees in the process.  Poor girls, I know I lost a few.

Thinking that maybe the book would have some advice for what to do in case of the loss of the queen, I was going to pick it up to page through it when I realized that the queen was walking around on the book!  I was saved!  Using the packaging from some hardware (plastic box with a piece of cardboard that slides into the back), I was able to recapture the queen.  I thought it best to get her into the cage as quickly as possible but as soon as I slid the cardboard open a bit, she flew off!  What a dunce!  How in the world can one person lose her queen bee twice?

I’d make the call tomorrow to order a new queen.  So I started tidying up.  Everything was sticky – at one point, the girls were getting a bit rambunctious, so I had sprayed at a few of them to get them to quit flying around.  What a mess.  Good thing my tote is plastic.  I had everything together, ready to take back up to the house and decided to look for the queen again.  Where would I go if I were a queen bee?  I started by looking low, as that’s where I’d found her the first time, but all I could see were workers.  Then out of the corner of my eye, I could see that there was a cluster of bees on the lattice – in a place where I knew that I hadn’t sprayed any of the syrup.  Imagine my joy when I saw the queen in the midst of about 20 workers, who all seemed to be attending her, rather than attacking her as I’d come to expect them to do.

I shooed the extra bees away and captured the queen again in my plastic box.  That thing was coming in handy!  Deciding that the other bees flying around would make me more nervous, I decided to take her up by the house to try to get her back in her cage.  A bit of coaxing and a bit of ticking her off later, and she was where she belonged.  I’d lost my marshmallows by this point, so held her in with my gloved finger and had Frank fetch the bag of mini marshmallows.

So the queen is once more ensconced in her cage and it is hanging between two frames, as all should be.  There were still quite a few bees in the package, but I didn’t want to disturb them anymore, so decided we should do chores and give everybody a break.  An hour later, there were probably 20-30 bees on the outside of the package and a handful inside.  I decided to put the package a few feet away and see if the girls would abandon the package to be near their sisters at the hive.  There was quite a cloud of bees flying around the front of the hive and several walking around the front face of it, but I figured they were just getting acquainted with their new home.

After a few minutes of watching, I checked out the package.  Only a couple of bees left on and in it, so I used the bee brush to get the ones off the outside and shook the inside ones out.  To my surprise, the cloud of bees around the hive had thinned out quite a bit and there were just a few of them crawling around on the front – most of them near the entrance.  So removing the package was the right thing to do – I think it was confusing them.

All the drama has me worn out, but pleased at the outcome.


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Offline beechercreature

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 09:09:10 AM »
sounds like quite the adventure. whacha going to do with all the honey?

Offline gmac

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2012, 10:03:46 AM »
Good luck.  I kept bees for years but work and the never ending battle with Varoa mites finally made me throw in the towel.

Hope you have great success with them.  They are such a fun and addictive (and sweet) hobby. 

Offline MrsKK

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2012, 05:18:07 PM »
I have severe allergies and am hoping that eating honey from my own yard/area will help with that.  Once things take off, I'm hoping to get enough to sell some.

I've wanted bees my entire life, so this is a dream come true.

Offline gmac

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 05:38:22 PM »
Silly question but you do know if you're allergic to bee stings right?  Just wondering since you mention allergies.

It's interesting to note, the families of beekeepers are more apt to develop severe allergies to bee stings because they get stung more frequently than the average person (plus exposure to dust from bees) but not enough to develop a real immunity.  Just a fact that I thought was kind of neat. 

Anyway, have fun.


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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 07:30:51 PM »
Congrats on the new family! Look forward to hearing more of your adventures in beekeeping.

Offline MrsKK

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2012, 09:11:04 AM »
About five years ago, we had a tiny swarm of honeybees try to build comb in our hay shed.  We tried moving them, but they returned to the hay shed and were angry as all get-out after that point.  Every time we entered the shed to get hay to feed the calves (twice a day) we were threatened - and I got stung a couple of times.  Just some swelling and itching, nothing dramatic, so no, I'm not allergic.

The allergies I have are pollen and dust-related. 

Offline Susan

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2012, 05:55:54 AM »
I just got a beehive this week too!  My family (mom, brother, sister, previously my grandfather) have always kept them.  One of their hives swarmed.  I AM allergic so never fooled with them.  But now I have lots of fruit trees so going to give it a go.  I haven't been stung in over 25 years so not sure how much of a problem it will be today.  Mostly my brother will take care of them.  At least until that first sting and I find out what I can tolerate!  Good luck with your new pets!
Susan

Offline anutcanfly

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2012, 10:29:09 AM »
I've been thinking of doing this too, so it's wonderful to hear of your first adventures.  Good luck!  :)
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Offline beechercreature

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2012, 10:38:49 AM »
I've been thinking of doing this too, so it's wonderful to hear of your first adventures.  Good luck!  :)

I know very little about beekeeping, but I've been told you can be put on a watchlist for when swarms are spotted. (animal control i think?)

They call you up, and you go round up the swarm. Free bees for you!


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Offline gmac

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2012, 12:45:45 PM »
I've picked up swarms before.  Best is on a low hanging branch that's easy to reach.  Just put a box under them, and give the branch a good shake and they should fall right in.  Or, cut off the limb if you can and get it even closer to the box.  Free bees are good  bees.

Offline Susan

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2012, 04:57:37 PM »
In our area it is through the local Extension Office.  They are in touch with the local beekeepers and many of them (including my mom/brother) are on the list.  So they get called regularly to go pick up swarms.  The hive I have is from one of their own hives that swarmed.  Tis the season!
Susan

Offline smilingcalico

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2012, 12:27:12 AM »
Best wishes with them!  I am envious!
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Offline MrsKK

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2012, 09:02:57 AM »
Wednesday was Day 3, the day I was supposed to make sure the queen had been freed from her cage.  The marshmallow was gone and the cage was covered with bees and filled with bees - it took a bit of time to determine that the queen was still in there.  Not sure what to do about it, I hung the cage back on the frame and closed everything back up again.

Yesterday, the weather was much nicer and DD and I suited up around 5 pm.  I used the smoker, just not feeling too sure about disturbing all those bees again.  The queen was out of the cage - Yay! - and the frame it had hung on had some irregular comb being built.  I removed those pieces to a plastic container so we could look at them more closely away from the hive. 

I wasn't able to see the queen again, but the frame was covered in bees, so I assume that's where she was.  I could occasionally see into cells in between the writhing mass and spotted what I thought were eggs - VERY good sign.  I filled up the syrup feeder and put another frame in where the queen cage had been and closed everything up. 

When we got out of our suits, we were able to see eggs in almost every cell on one side of the odd comb we'd removed.  She's doing her job!

Offline anutcanfly

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Re: My first adventure in beekeeping
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2012, 10:32:48 AM »
How exciting!  What type of forage will they have?  I love some of the flavors that develop in the honey.
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