Blogging About My Adventures as a New Backyard Beekeeper

Day One-Installing the Bees April 26, 2011

Filed under: apiary,Bee Package,beehive,Beekeeping,Queen Bee,Uncategorized — beekeepingbug @ 8:25 pm

So the day has finally arrived! My mother and I drove up to NH to pick up our bees on Tuesday, 4/26. The apiary we ordered the bees from was in a surprisingly residential area. The apiary was run out of someone’s driveway/garage. We paid for the bees in the garage and picked up our 2 bee packages (two of hundreds) in the driveway.

We loaded the bee packages into the back of the car and drove home. Even though there were several homeless honey bees clinging to the outside of the packages (probably since they were loaded in Georgia), there were no problems with loose bees flying around the car. These loose bees are referred to as hobos.

When we got back to the house, we gathered all of our supplies near the beehives and got to work pouring the bees into the hives. Someone recently told my mother and I that there is no such thing as ‘mistakes’ when it comes to beekeeping, only ‘learning experiences’. Well, we had quite a few of those.

We dumped the bees in, as you can see in the video. The first minute of the video (which you can totally skip, no hard feelings) is just of my mother and I prying the top off of the package and taking out the can of food. What you don’t see in the video is my mother and I installing the queen cages into the hives before dumping the bees. This is the most crucial part of getting a hive established. If the queen is not installed correctly, it could lead directly or indirectly to her death. See, honey bees are very fickle. If anything goes wrong, or the bees feel disturbed in any way, they will likely blame it on the queen and kill her. That would be very bad! While its possible to get another queen, it delays the hives’ production of new bees. Without a constant supply of new bees, honey production will be severely interrupted.

Thankfully, we haven’t had any problems thus far (we think). We checked on the queen cages today (+5 days after installation) and the queens were released! Yay! Step 1 complete. Unfortunately, the heat of the hive melted the queen cage into the wax foundation and we had to rip a queen cage-sized hole in the foundation. While it looks terrible and ugly as hell, I really hope it won’t cause any problems…

So, our queens are released. For our first venture into the hive (today), we were not supposed to do anything other than make sure the queen was released and take out the cage. We did not look for new eggs or anything, as we wanted to disrupt the bees as little as possible (Ha, yeah right). So hopefully the released queen decided to hang around and lay eggs! In other news, the bees were very busy drawing comb, which is exactly what we want to see! My mother and I were a little nervous about the state of my mother’s hive, because right from he get-go it seemed less active than mine, but they both seem to be doing well!

Next up, the first full inspection! Hopefully next weekend, weather depending.

Until next time,



Prepping for ‘Game Day’ April 19, 2011

Filed under: apiary,beehive,Beekeeping — beekeepingbug @ 11:07 pm
So, we’re T-minus 7 days from the Big Day, and I am starting to get nervous. My mother and I still have some prepping to do and I suddenly feel like we’re out of time (even though we have all week. Deep breath, relax…) We still need to get our hives all set up outside on their cinder-block stands and create a good water bowl for the bees. We still have a few frames to put foundation in, and we still need to try out the smoker.
Now that I’ve written out that list, it doesn’t seem so bad. We’ve already painted the hives and assembled 50 frames and put foundation in about 40 of them. Since our neighbors and friends already think we’re crazy, my mother and I decided to go a little crazy with painting the hives (see photo). Hopefully we look properly insane now. I wouldn’t want to disappoint. It’s too bad the bee suit has to stay white-I would definitely tie dye it, or something equally wacky.
This week I will be pouring over my notes from the bee class I took…It seems so long ago, but it really only ended last month. Unfortunately the weather has not cooperated so far this Spring, so our teacher has not had his official Spring ‘hive opening’-which would allow my mother and I to actually get close to a working hive and get acquainted with the idea that this is what we’ll be doing…So, we’re going into this a little blind, but that’s OK. Experienced beekeepers are all very friendly and supportive of new beekeepers, and I know that help is only a phone call away.
It’s very interesting, now that I have become somewhat immersed in the ‘beekeeping world’, beekeeping is kind of like being a part of a secret society; You don’t know it until you become one, but there are beekeepers everywhere! Now when my mother or I mention to someone that we keep bees (or will be soon), that someone always seems to know someone else who also keeps bees! I have had many stories like this so far, and I’ve only been talking about beekeeping for a couple of months.Hopefully I can enlist a brave soul to take photos or video of my mom and I on Game Day. I have a feeling it will make for great entertainment.

Until then-