bee

Long Live the Queen!

Three days after I installed the bees, I had to release the queen. She was still in her cage, being seen to by her attendents, and with her caught in the hive, the other bees wouldn't leave her and would do their best to stick with her. But after two or three days, she had to be let out so that she could lay eggs for new workers so that they could get on with the business of being a hive.



Taking off the Feeder
I decided to do it in the evening, when it had started to cool on that side of the building, and there was a little wind so that the bees wouldn't be too active, and since I had to make sure that the queen stayed in her cage until I got her to the hive, I gloved up. Thin gloves, which might not have actually stopped a sting, but gloves nonetheless.

The feeder was also leaking, so we wanted to check it to see how much syrup was in it and time what we were going to do to it. It really had to come out sometime, be cleaned, dry out, and then be resealed and the sealing had to be allowed to set. So it was going to be a matter of a few days. John did a little research and figured out that a simple Ziploc bag could be used to hold the syrup. Small slits would be cut into it and the bees could reach the syrup through the slits if they were at the top surface of the bag.

There were dozens of bees in the feeder, and plenty of syrup still, so we decided to wait until night time to do that particular transfer since that Sunday night it wasn't supposed to get below the high 40's. It was in the high 70's during the day and felt wonderful. So the first hurdle was one we didn't have to take.

The Queen Has Left the Hive
I had set up all my tools, and everything I thought I'd need on a chair by the hive, including one of the windshield brushes that one uses to brush snow off a windshield. It was going to be my bee brush, after almost crushing a few girls last time I remembered I had a brush and could use it.

I removed an empty frame, moved it to the side, and then slid the other frames a little off kilter so that I could get to the queen cage, which was still rubber-banded to one of the central frames. I very carefully got the metal tab that was sticking out and picked up the cage, which was completely covered with attendant bees. The brush was really great for getting those girls off the cage so that I could take a pair of needle nose pliars and take the cork out of the cage.

It came out really easily, and I stuck my thumb over the hole, until I could bend over and put the cage, hole side down, into the hive. In one of the YouTube videos, the queen just comes right out. When I had her up and could see her, she looked active, healthy, and ready to rumble. She was pacing back and forth inside the tiny area. But when I put the cage into the hive, worker bees crowded into her Majesty's chamber. They just charged right in and I couldn't figure out if she'd left or not! I stood there, just holding the cage in the milling crowd of bees as they got gradually louder and louder and...

All Right, Go...
That's when I remembered that I had my sugar syrup spray bottle. I got it out and spritzed everyone a few times and all the ladies calmed right down. A little sweetness goes a long way with these girls. So I just crouched there for a while longer, hoping that she had already come out. All the workers in the hive were really active, and I got a good look inside. There were already huge layers of beeswax built on the base in the frames. I was really amazed at seeing that, as they'd only had three days, and after seeing the leaf of comb that was in the shipping box, I'd expected them to have only been able to build that much.

It seems that with the bases already there and only having to draw out comb, these girls could build a whole lot more quickly. I knew that snow was coming Tuesday night and for all of Wednesday, so it was good that they were getting their insulation in. Plus, the Queen, when she decided to go, would now have cells to lay eggs into.

Eventually, I just laid the queen cage on the top of a few of the frames, so that the entrance/exit was open and she could come out when she damned well pleased, if she hadn't already. Or the workers could get out as well. I just left it there, and started to put the hive back together again.

Comb!!
Shuffling all the frames back into place was pretty easy. I just did it slowly and gradually, and all the bees got out of the way. The fuller ones amazed me with their weight and size and mass. And there were a few frames that were at the wrong distance, not quite the right bee distance apart, so I shifted them either closer or further depending on what they needed before I put the frame I'd taken out back into the box. I was amazed at seeing the amount of activity that was going on, and it was just fun to work through things when I had all my protective gear on and I didn't have to worry about consequences.

I buttoned things up after that, getting the feeder back on and with the brush it was easy to get the lid and telescoping lid back on, without crushing anyone.

Night Time Raid
On Monday night, we went in, took the feeder, got the sugar syrup sack in and then closed it up again. They were just humming along quietly to themselves, and we did it all without any equipment at all. They weren't at all upset, and it was beautifully warm all day.

On Tuesday morning I finally got the queen cage out, as she'd left it and there were just four worker bees hanging out in it. I brushed them off and shook them out and finally got it out of there.

I'd also seen some bees landing and trying to fight with my girls. I know there's another hive in the neighborhood, so expected a little robbing and exploration between the hives. Also, since I knew that on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the weather was going to be in the low 20's and cold, that it would probably be a good idea to restrict the entrance a little, instead of leaving it wide open.

The more open the bottom entrance is, the more air flow there is through the hive. It's a wonderful thing in the height of the summer, but bad for cold weather. Also a more restricted entrance gives the bees in the hive less space they have to defend in order to keep intruders out. The bottom board came with an entrance restriction bar, so I asked John to put it in that night, and he did. I late read, on the beekeepers' association mailing lists, that that is all you really do need to do for cold weather.

May Day!
And it was a good thing, too....

It snowed nearly a foot here in Longmont, and today it's been melting.

In the midst of all that one of my crowns came off of the stump of a tooth it was protecting while I was flossing at night. I freaked out a little, until John could get it back into my mouth in the right direction. And I had to fit the dentist's chair, to get it glued back in, amid two other appointments. Luckily the last of those was a massage with Bonnie, and that really helped even out a rough day. Then, this morning, I went in for training as a volunteer administrative assistant for the local 911 dispatchers. It was pretty overwhelming at first, trying to learn everything pertaining to my job at once, but I think I have a general handle on what's going on.

What's best, though, is that my boss in the department was the same man who answered my question about how often to spray sugar syrup on my caged bees!! *laughs* He's a keeper! And has eight viable hives scattered around the city. Wow. It's like it was meant to bee. XD
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(groans at that pun)

It really is fascinating to hear about your bees, and I'm glad it's going so well!

Much sympathy on the tooth.
It really is! I never knew I would be so fascinated by what they do. There was one warm day in the last week where I actually went out and just sat there and watched them bring in pollen in sacks on their back legs.
That is so interesting. I would've been terrified to look out and see all that snow, so it's a relief to hear that there was so much wax and the entrances were restricted and everything was cozy.

Good luck! I hope your hive has many pesticide-free blossoms to pollinate this spring.
The snow is actually pretty benign here, especially since we really need the moisture, and the local farmers are dancing with joy at getting the snow on top of their early plantings. It's really flat out here, so the roads were easy to clear and quite safe.

The bees were quite cozy, and survived just fine.

Thank you for the wish! I really do hope it comes true.