The Colonies

Back in January, I ordered two packages of bees from Mr. Buzz Bailey, our local supplier. One was for insurance, in case our original hive didn’t survive the winter; the other was an investment, for much the same reason.

Our expansion pack, if you like.

However, our original hive — which I like to call First Foundation* — seems to be doing well. We opened it up this evening to find one super full of uncapped honey, and the other containing a decent amount of drawn-out comb, which bodes well for the season.

"original hive"

Although you can’t see the bees in this picture, I can assure you that they are inside the hive — and that they are numerous, very busy, and not especially pleased to have a couple of humans poking around in their home.  Other observations: minimal pestilence and the frames in the deep hive bodies are bulging with comb, because these ladies build big.

Which brings me to the new hives.

This year, we went with eight-frame Garden hives, because My Fella really likes the look and also because I am intrigued by the idea of not injuring my back while hefting a ten-frame full deep hive body. Since these hives made of cypress, we bought some  finish to weatherproof the wood while preserving its natural beauty. I think it’ll hold up well, although I’m a bit nervous about the much-vaunted “A-line Copper Top,” because it’s exactly the sort of thing that, around here, is likely to get stolen and sold for  scrap — though maybe NOT if it’s crawling with bees.

"8 frames"

Since I couldn’t get time off work, My Fella handled both bee pick-up (in Hillsborough) AND installation — for which he deserves an enthusiastic round of applause, because transporting 20,000-30,000 bees in the back of a Honda Civic and then shaking them into a couple of wooden boxes is pretty bad@$$.

"garden hive"

He even rigged up the feeders on top of the hives — they’re made from plastic tupperware containers from Food Lion and filled with sugar syrup. One note of caution: LET THE SYRUP COOL BEFORE YOU ACCIDENTALLY POUR IT ON THE BEES, BOILING THEM ALIVE FEED THEM**.

In a day or so, we’ll check to see if the new queens have made it out of their little cages…I don’t anticipate a problem here, since the others are eagerly chomping their way though the little candy plug that separates her from the rest of the gang.

Meanwhile, we’ll be able to take a little breather — EVERYTHING happens in the same three-week window in Spring — before tackling the next project.

*Because it was the FIRST, and because it contains frames full of wax FOUNDATION. Get it? *sigh* OMG, what is wrong with me?
**As My Fella insists, it only happened a.) once and b.) just a little bit. Also, c.) the Queen survived, so it’s all good.
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2 thoughts on “The Colonies

  1. Jenny O says:

    I laughed at the First/Ferst Foundation thing. But then, I a) am a nerd b) listen to NPR constantly and c) work in nonprofit fundraising.

    I really want to come visit you and your menagerie, by the way. I would LOVE to have bees/ducks/earthworms/etc. and I’m so impressed by the way you’re just…doing it.

    • You should definitely visit! We even have a proper guest room, with a real bed and everything.

      And in the interest of promoting responsible plant and animal husbandry, I’d like to make it clear to readers that we spend a goodly amount of time on research, planning, and general preparation before we actually embark on our various projects (what can I say, we’re librarians) — especially during the winter months when there’s not much else to do. However, there does come a point where you’ve gone through the entire checklist and just have to hope that what you’re doing works. There’s always that element of risk.

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