New Hives

Starting Over Again After Six Years

We still can’t figure out what happened to our honeybees.  They were gone, without a trace last winter.  There was plenty of honey still stored in each hive but just a few dead bees in there, most of them were young bees.  There was no foul smell in any of the hives and the frames looked clean.  After six years of tending them, they were gone in one season.  We also haven’t seen very many wild bees lately either.  So far just some Carpenter bees and Mason bees.  Not even a Bumblebee.

We think we might have been hit either by the CCD (Colony-collapse Disorder) or Zombees (Apocephalus borealis) but it could be anything at this point.  As discouraged as we are we won’t give up.  We received three new packages of bees to start over with.  The first two came in mid-April but we had to keep them in their boxes for a few more days after we received them.  The weather wasn’t on our side to hive them, either raining, too cold or to windy.  We sprayed sugar syrup on the screens a few times a day to keep them well fed while they remained confined.  We were finally able to hive them on April 23, freedom at last.

The first two packages, we were so happy to see them
Anxious to get out
Poured them in the super after attaching the queen box. I kept the corrugated sheet under the base to keep them warm since the weather is still on the cold side.
Added a top tray feeder filled with sugar syrup. I adapted this tray feeder by adding fine screen mesh on top of the floating bars to prevent bees drowning. It works very well.
Two new hives. I left the empty packages in front of the hive so the bees that are still in the box can find their way to new home

We did the first inspection of these two new hives ten days later, May 2nd.  Each hive had freed their queens and built comb.  Both top tray feeders were empty.  There was some pollen as well.  We couldn’t see the queens but didn’t want to stress them further by searching for her.  Over all there are good signs that they have settled in to their new homes.  We removed the top tray feeders and changed to bottle feeders instead because they had built comb between the feeder gap and inside one of the feeders.

It’s a beautiful sight to see on the first inspection. Bees are busy building combs and some pollen.
Very busy at the entrance

It’s been raining almost everyday with the temperature hovering a little above 50°F on the days that we are home.  As a result, since the 1st inspection, we haven’t have a chance to check on their feeders again.  I think we will have to continue feeding them until the weather condition is improved.

The third package came in on May 5th and I was able to hive them that evening.  This particular package is much calmer than the first two, maybe because they weren’t in confinement for a long time like the first two packages.

The third hive

Hopefully these three new hives will survive the season.  My fear is not just the CCD now but the commercial elimination of mosquitos and ticks that is encroaching into the neighborhood.  Any sensible person knows that spraying insecticide will not just kill mosquitos and ticks but all insects that come into contact.  But advertisement and convenience seem to trump commonsense.  So we set the new hives further inside our property and will keep our fingers crossed.

New Bees

Installing Them In New Hives

I couldn’t believe it has been almost a month since my last post.  Not that there wasn’t anything to write about but life has been so hectic.  Back to normal again at last and with good news as well.

Four of the hives didn’t make it through winter and the one that showed signs of life we weren’t sure of.  So, I placed an order for two new packages bees early on.  I wasn’t going to wait since the supplier either runs out or they ship too late in the season for the hive to get established properly before winter.

The post office called today letting me know that I have to pick up the bees.  The Post Office will not deliver live animals to an individual home, period.  The weather was also on my side: sunny with a thunder storm in the afternoon.  So I picked them up and installed them in their new homes.

Two packages of bees.  This is how they were shipped.
Two packages of bees. This is how they were shipped.

A few things I do during the installation may be a little bit unorthodox like removing the cork from the opposite end from the fondant.  But I figured that the queen had been with the bees for at least  three days; it was not like I was introducing a new queen to the hive.  Also, with a storm coming, she won’t leave.  The installation process had gone well except for the Scotch tape that wouldn’t stick to the frame.  That caused an awkward maneuver on my part.

We are very happy to welcome around 20,000 children to the family.  And, adding to this, the surviving hive is very healthy and now threatens to swarm.

Here is the hives installation video.  Many awkward moments but happy all around at the end.

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