Archive | April, 2012

Release Party

26 Apr

The day after I picked up the bee package I was able to “installed” them into their new hive. To figure out how I was suppose to get 10,000 bees and a queen into the hive, I watched a bunch of youtube videos. What I learned from all of these videos was that there really isn’t an eloquent way to do it. I am also realizing that the bees know what they are doing and that I am the amateur in this play.

I started biking to work this week which is an entirely separate and equally treacherous en devour. When I got home I wanted to get the bees in the hive before the sun went down. My thighs were shaking from all of the huffing and puffing it takes to get over the Manhattan bridge and my stomach was growling for dinner. Anyone who has ever seen me when I am hungry (or tired) knows what a gremlin I can be. Obviously this wasn’t the most ideal opportunity to release bees that have been caged for three days. We did it anyway.

Opening the package

Opening the package

At first, Mike and I couldn’t find the full bee jacket so I just put on a veil and some rubber gloves. I guess it has been a while since I’ve been around bees because I was very skittish about the whole thing. The first thing I had to do was to take out the can of sugar syrup. A few bees got out in the process but that was ok. The next thing was to get the queen cage out. It was hanging by a white tab and should have been easy to get out. I had it in my hand and then I dropped it. Into the box of 10,000 bees. Bees that have been contained for days. I like to think that I am not afraid but I couldn’t stick my hand in and get it out. That’s when we started to panic.

Releasing the Bees

Releasing the Bees

I decided that I was just going to continue on without having the queen cage removed and dump them in. A good majority of them came out on the first try. I was able to find the queen. We had to take out the wooden plug from one end of the queen’s cage. However, when Mike tried to do it he pushed it in. The possibility of loosing the queen was high but I think we got her in safe. I put the frames back into the hive and closed the lid.

Putting the Hive back together

Putting the Hive back together

I will do my first hive inspection in about a week to make sure that we still have a queen and that she has started to do her job.

Cleaning House

23 Apr backyard beekeeping

In preparation for the bee package to arrive, I had to do a little bit of clean up. As some of you may remember, last year’s hive was riddled with small hive beetles , was a victim of robbing and was a bit of a mess. So the other weekend I took apart the hive and washed it down. I scraped away any wax and propolis buildup from the sides of the hive. I took out all of the frames and saw that over the winter, some web forming insect may have moved in. I decided that this year I wanted to start from scratch so I got rid of all of the old comb.

Old Comb

Scraping away old comb

I took some of the old frames and put them in the freezer so that any remaining nuisances would be killed. I know, this isn’t the first time some strange bee related thing was in my freezer.

I also build some new frames. I had to nail together the four sides and put what’s called frame foundation. This is a bit of a blueprint for the bees to build comb on.

New foundation

New foundation

backyard beekeeping

backyard beekeeping

Luckily it was a lovely day and I had some extra hands helping me out. Hopefully the spruced up hive will be a good home to my girls this year.

Back in Action

20 Apr

It is finally spring time and I have decided to give beekeeping another go. Since I have all of the parts of the hive, all we really needed were the bees. I was lucky enough to get a package of bees from the NYC Beekeeping Meetup Group.  A bee package is a shoebox size of about 10,000. The box has wire sides so that the bees can get air and water. The package also has a queen in a smaller box of her own, similar to the one I got last year.

Bee Packages

Bee Packages

The NYC Beekeeping group drove down to Georgia to pick up the bees and made it back to Brooklyn by Wednesday morning. Luckily Mike and I were around to pick up the package on Wednesday evening. The pickup spot is in this old run down building on Flatbush Ave, the same one where the pollen deal took place last year. When we arrived I was asked to measure out 50 grams of pollen in little baggies while I waited for my package.

Weighing pollen

Weighing pollen

50 grams of pollen

50 grams of pollen

I took the bee box home and put it in the basement since I couldn’t install it until Thursday after work. I sprayed the girls with some water so that they stayed hydrated until the release party. I am very excited to have something to take care of again and a reason to spend time outside.