Two hives a buzzin’April 26, 2009
My husband and I opened the hives today. This was our first time opening any hives so we weren’t a humming machine. It also meant our minds were too full and our hands too for us to take any pictures – maybe next time. And finally, because we were so new to the whole endeavor we didn’t look for all the right things, we mostly focussed on evidence that the queen was o.k.
We had installed the bees in our 2 hives using 2 different methods – one in which you take out some frames and just put the package box in the hive (with the queen cage out for them to access it). In the other method you dump the bees from the package box into the hive and put the queen cage between frames for them to eat the plug out.
I think both methods worked fine. We probably had higher bee mortality with the shake and dump method because so many bees didn’t make it into the hive the first night (you can shake with more vigor than we did). Also, in that hive we didn’t leave enough space above the queen cage and the bottom of the feeder box for the bees to eat the sugar plug out of the queen cage – – so I did have to poke that out today. I’ll check next week to see if she is out and laying eggs.
In the “package box in the hive” method the bees seemed happy. The queen was out, and I suspect she was among the mass of bees on one frame. The bees had built some comb on the bottom of the feeder box in the area where the frames had been removed. I think if I were to use this method in the future I would put an empty hive super on top of the brooding super so the bees wouldn’t have such a tempting low ceiling to build from.
In both cases there was comb being built on the frames. And there was uncapped honey in the comb I cut from the bottom of the feeder box.
We got some experience with the smoker today. That takes some finagling, especially in the wind (is it ever perfect hive opening weather?). Between the smoker and a spray bottle of sugar sirup the bees were kept under control pretty well (of course later in the season there could be 3 times as many). We didn’t get stung, although it’s bound to happen eventually.
So far anyway (don’t want to get too cocky) we seem to have 2 working hives. Next week we’ll check again to see if the queens are fulfilling their queenly duties. If we see some capped brood we’ll leave them be for awhile.
A dear friend of little faith suggests you readers should start a pool to guess when I’ll first be stung. Some info to help you guess – it’s best to open hives midday and sunny days are better than rainy days. Closest one will get some of our first honey! I’d start guessing now (put it in the comments) because we’ll be harassing them again next weekend if the weather’s decent.