So we went there a little before 2pm, as I had 911 all morning. It was kind of a rough set of incidents, including one with a suicidal father whom the dispatchers called directly to get him out of the house without weapons... that worked out; but it was odd to listen through.
So we went round back, and they had a few dozen of the wired cages in the back, with the lovely buzzing of warm bees. The weather had been freezing over the weekend, with snow and ice and all that, so yesterday they'd been a lot more quiescent, and the lady back there was saying that they were a lot more active with the warm weather. I got to pick my box, and I tried for the one where they were clumped up most closely to the queen. They'd definitely accepted her and were hanging near her to keep her warm, and there were fewer dead bodies at the bottom.
So I picked them up, took them to the back of our car, and we put them in a crate that would hold any droppings that happened, and we went and got Jet from school. *laughs*
John mostly kept me focussed on the checklist, what it was I had to do, and I knew the steps were pretty straightforward, i.e. take out the can, get the queen out, put a marshmallow in for the plug, and then get her into the hive. Pour all the workers on top, and then try and get a feeder onto it so that they would have something to eat. I also put the can into the hive, so that they would have that as a source of food as well. The hive was full of old comb, so I figured they'd have plenty to walk around on, there would be ready-made insulation, and old comb is attractive to bees.
I think they could smell the comb, so they dropped down into the rows quickly.
I know most people wouldn't say that, but I really loved it; and loved knowing that I wasn't going to react badly to it. I was very carefully suppressing any urge to swat or wave at the girls; and it was kind of fun knowing that I didn't have to in a way. I trusted them, and they rewarded the trust by not ever stinging me or making the move that was a prelude to a sting.
The tab was actually of such sharp metal that it cut into the wood, so I had to work it free at different angles.
She's really active, and it looked like she was really doing well in there.
The idea is to just keep the queen in the hive until everyone had decided that this is going to be their home. She usually sticks with the workers once they've established the hive, and they stick with her while she's stuck in the cage. And the idea is that she and her workers will eat at the candy plug until they can free her and clean her off. This way they release her eventually.
I may well remove that and the second deep if it gets too cold at night. They also have a feeder on top, with about a quart of simple syrup up there. I'll have to check it soon and probably refill it as soon as they're done with it. Though the spring here has been wet recently, so there should be plenty of bloom for them to forage off of. Still, it was snow, which can freeze off a lot of bloom. Still, the dandelions are popping everywhere, and there should be more stuff sooner rather than later.
We actually have the box in a different part of the yard than where they'll end up staying; but we have people coming on Monday to put the solar panels back up on the roof. So we had to put the hive in a place that would be out of the way and keep the workers out of the flight path.
I loved being able to just stand in the cloud of bees, though, and they were doing fine with where they'd ended up. I made sure that the queen cage was facing out the right way, and the spacing looked right for what they had in there. They also all seemed to find good footing, and were happy to get into and onto all the comb that they could find and clean it all out. There had been some wax month damage on the waxed frames I'd kept from the end of the hive three years ago. There can't be mites and I'd frozen them, but then put them back out into the garage, and the wax months had found them again.
This time I had the snow brush to brush all the girls into the box before I placed anything anywhere. That was really good to have this time. *laughs* The things I learned from the mistakes of the previous time. I often think that if one is just lucky the first time, you don't get to learn what you actually did *right* the same way you get to learn what you did wrong from the mistakes of the previous time.
That seems to always be true, no matter the endeavor.
By the time I was done, they were already doing orienting flights from the front entrance. I have the restrictor on, at mid length, as the temps at night are still in the high 30's. Not super warm, but also not terribly cold. They should be able to defend this size entrance.
It was amazing how satisfying it was to just see happy, healthy bees orienting on the hive entrance.
I went and adjusted a few things, putting a deep box on the top instead of the medium one, and having to leave a crack between it and the feeder to begin with because so many of the girls were using the crack as an entrance at the start. I also put the shipping cage into the shade behind the hive.
When the sun started to go down behind some clouds, all the bees who were in the cage got into the hive, and fewer and fewer were wandering outside, and I finally just went over and closed the gap, with bare hands and no protective gear. With the gap closed, too, they were keeping more heat in the hive, which is important these first few nights.
I'm really grateful that ours didn't come two weeks ago, the way the Boulder Beekeepers' bees came. With the snow and temperatures in the 20's, I would have had a hard time worrying about them. As it is, now, while it's near freezing at night, I know they should be all right.