Sunday, April 28, 2013

Beekeeping 101 - City Slickers enjoying some Country Life

What an exciting weekend it has been for the Smith family!  The three of us have been talking about getting some honeybees, so we took a couple of classes and we did it!  Bees are fascinating creatures and it has been such an amazing experience.

Yesterday, Carl and Amelia went to swimming lessons while I drove to NE Portland to pick up the "Nuc".  We then drove a little over an hour to Clatskanie, our special place in the country, where we planned to locate the bee hive.

All went well until we entered the gate and parked at the farm, and then things began to get interesting!  Right when we arrived, we noticed that two calves had been born!  They were staying very close to their mommas, maybe only a day or two old and were so very lovely.

Carl prepared the location for the blue Nuc box while Amelia and I suited up in the white bee suits.  As we were moving the hive out of the car, the lid shifted a little bit...just enough for hundreds of bees to the car.  It was crazy!  Carl quickly put his white screened bonnet and gloves on and carried the swarming Nuc about 100 ft to the permanent spot.  Most of the bees were just crawling around on the outside of the box.  Many of them were flying around us, but seemed to follow us as we walked.  Here is a little video of the Nuc, once we placed it in the permanent location:

We were concerned that the bees might swarm and leave us.  In addition, we were also really worried that the Queen may have been lost en route.  However, by dusk, all of the bees had found the entrance to the box and had made it inside for the night.  Whew.  Here is a pic of Amelia in her kid-sized bee attire!

We spent the night on the red bunk beds, all cozy and warm with the wood stove roaring.  The bottom bunk was a little too cozy and sweaty with Beatrix (dog), Amelia, and myself all in a row.  Not much sleep.

In the early morning, as i snoozed, Carl and Amelia discovered that a new calf had been born.  It was all wobbly legged and amazing.

They inspected the hive and everything looked great.  The bees were coming and going through the entrance, just as we hoped.  We moved the blue Nuc aside and placed our "deep" on the base in the exact same location.  We placed three new frames in the Deep, then ever so carefully moved the five frames from the Nuc to the Deep, keeping them in the same order.  They were thick with bees, comb, and eggs.  Finally, we inserted the last two new frames and closed the lid.

 This photo shows how the Deep looked just after we closed the lid.  Amelia found a bee amongst a cluster of bees on the grass in front of the hive, which was larger and had longer wings than the others.  We think that she was the Queen.  Carl picked her up and placed her next to the opening on the front of the hive and she made a "bee line" into the hole!  Maybe we saved the Queen-who knows!!

The bees will be drawing out their comb, filling the new frames.  We will keep checking them and when they have filled 7 of the frames we will add another Deep on top.  We may not get much honey this summer because the new colony is working hard to produce all that comb.  So we wait!