Our bee crew with substitutes headed out to our hives to welcome our four new packages of bees. We started with the Wendy hive, above is the Queen Wendy in her cage (with a worker on my thumb). We we hive the packages, we spray the packages with sugar water, bonk the box so all the workers fall to the bottom, remove the feeder can, spray a bit more, take out the queen cage, make sure she is alive, put her in a pocket, dump the bees in the hive, remove the queen from your pocket, spray her, open her cage and release her into the hive, carefully put in all of the frames, put on the ceiling, put in the sugar water feeder and pollen patty, and close up the hive.
Here's a video of the newly installed Wendy hive checking out all of the new frames to build comb and raise the next generation of workers (I recommend clicking the HQ aka high quality button:
After successfully installing the Wendy hive, we moved on to the Juliet hive.
All went well with this hive, but we did notice a wee bit of bonking from these girls as we were pouring them in. Bees are supposed to be fairly docile when you get new packages. They are in swarm mode--they have been moved from their old home with no comb or brood and they are focused on finding a new home not defending a home.
Hans took a picture of a bee angrily buzzing on his hood and even though it's blurry, you can still see the stinger coming out. I don't want to start off on the wrong foot with a hive, but I wonder if the pretty pink Juliet hive will not be so friendly as we do our first bee inspections?
Most of the bees that come our bee suits are pretty low key. These are bees on Merry's suit. They were more after old honey residue and sugar water on our suits than actually climbing around looking for a place to sting. Although, I think Hans would disagree. Here's a video of me pouring in the Yvaine hive bees, most go in, but you can hear Hans say, "Stop bonking me." There's also a very angry bee coming up to attack the camera:
When I was pouring the bees into the last hive, we got a tad rushed. It started out sunny, but then it suddenly clouded over and it started to rain, I wanted to keep our girls dry. As I rushed, I felt something on my foot--a small clump of bees fell on my shoe. I suddenly regretted my lax attitude about the bees' mood during hiving, bees crawled over my turkey vulture socks and I decided not to walk right away so I wouldn't irritate them into stinging. They eventually flew off and it was all good.
The bees in all hives were ravenous! Even though there's a feeder can, they were licking anything with sugar water on it. Here are two bees frantically licking sugar water that had coated a very dead and very old bee--yuck. There was even a moment when we were at the Hannah hive, about to release the queen and she pointed to my gloved hand. There was a tight cluster of five bees surrounding another--I gulped hard. Was this a queen from another hive?? No, it turned out to be just a very sugar coated worker that was getting a good lick down from the other workers.
Whew. But there was more queen drama to follow.
After successfully installing the previous three queens, I didn't worry too much about the final Hannah queen. I opened her cage and instead of her crawling out onto the frame, she opted to try and fly away--Hans captured the moment. Because she is heavy and full of eggs, she flew very slow. I slowly followed with my hands to get her to follow me and then two other workers flew on her and she sank like a stone to the bottom of the hive. I'm sure the workers were just attracted by her pheromones, but it looked like they were saying, "Oh no you don't there Bessie, you're stayin'!"
We carefully put the frames back in and closed her up before too much rain got in the hive.
After the hiving, I waited for the rain to pass and then headed into the woods to do some birding. As the day got later, I headed towards the hives to see what was going on. I set up my digiscoping equipment so I could watch them from a safe distance. Almost all of the hives had removed the leaves blocking the entrance (it's supposed to stay there the first day to encourage them to accept the hives. Bees were coming and going from the entrance. Watching them, it looked like quite a few workers were flying around and orienting themselves to the new home so they know where home is when they go out to forage. Some were bees who got lost in the hiving and now have to see if they can get accepted into one of the hives, I'm sure they will work it out.
And so it begins, a fresh bee season. Here's a video of the Yvaine hive workers milling about the entrance of their new homes: