Honey, I’m home!

I couldn’t help myself, but the bees arrived! Two packages of just tickled pink Italian Honeybees arrived on Sunday. Mike was worried about them all day Saturday, and made sure we were hours early to pick them up on Sunday.

I bet the gentleman who sells the bees (in Damascus, Maryland) has a lot of fun and laughter to see us newbie beekeepers get their hives, get their bees, and on the field day. I say this because Mike talked his ear off for 10 minutes about what we’ve done and what we’re doing and what’s he’s seen the “Beeman” (his new favorite beekeeper) do.

But I can’t judge him, as it’s an exciting adventure and it’s something he’s excited about. And let me tell you, there are few things that Mike is visibly excited about. Beekeeping appears to be one of them.

So we picked up our bees (buzzing in the back of the car and making me nervous!) and went home. Of course, 10am was a little chilly this Sunday to install bees, and he had lunch with the neighbors and house chores to do, so it had to wait.

Finally, hours later and only once our neighbors admitted to having to lunge their horses and stop socializing, we went to install them. Mike did most of the heavy work as I participated from afar, but I did hold the queen cages while he shook the packages in. That helps, right?

Since I didn’t get pictures of all the steps, here’s what we did with the few pictures I do have to follow:

  • Pried open the lid of the package–that’s wedged on there a bit tighter than you’d think!
  • Sprayed the bees with some sugar water. It was probably more than we should have given the late afternoon hour and the slightly chilly air. This may have contributed to losing some of our bees, but this is a learning experience.
  • Started to pull out the sugar syrup can. We would have done this step next, but those jars were really wedged in there.
  • Tapped/banged the package down so the bees would mostly settle on the bottom.
  • Pulled out the sugar syrup can. This was where we were a bit surprised. Silly or not, we honestly were expecting a funnel of bees to start pouring out of the package. That was not so.
  • Took out the queen cage. I helped out here, carefully holding the cage very far away from my body and standing around in a stiff position while deciding if I wanted to bend over to pick up my camera. This is going to be a slow process of getting used to our new “pets.”
  • Shook those ladies into their homes! And you really do shake them. Some fly around, some fall right in, some refused to leave their package home.
  • Close the house up. Mike learned after the first hive to be a bit safer when closing the hive after killing a lady or two by smashing the inner cover on.
  • We finished it up with a gallon jar with sugar syrup held off the cover with blocks, covered by a deep and the cover.
  • Ta-da! We have lift-off.

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We left the packages out by the hives overnight, but noticed the next day that there was still a good cluster in one of the packages. Sadly, we found out later Monday night that many of these were dead bees–Mike was fretting and worried, but we’re sure the ladies will bounce back in no time. And boy are they loving the apple tree that’s in bloom!

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