BEEKEEPING IN THE NORTHEAST - An account of my beekeeping, not a treatise of expertise, but for friends & family who wish to keep bees vicariously through me, and for the occasional apiarist passer-by.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Puttin' On The Nucs - May 14, 2014

The first dandelions... just a few... were finally coming into bloom the day of installation.

Those long round-trip drives to pick up nucleus colonies are especially worth it when the bees are from several generations of Northern raised, disease resistant bees. 

The hope is that we will all raise our own bees as responsible beekeepers, so after years of learning how to get the real deal and failures with packages, I think I finally got it right this season.

Nucs should be introduced to their new home by removing the hive and placing the nuc box right on the stand. They imprint so well that they will orient right to that spot that very new day. We left for Vermont at 4 pm, arriving at Mike Palmer's bee yard around 8:30 and the bees were still flying. He tucked them in by darkness around 9pm while we had a nice visit with this veteran beekeeper of 40+ years, then we drove them back to New Hampshire, arriving around 1:30 am. You think NH and VT are close? Well... ya just can't get there from here... not without a lot of twists and turns. 8 hours round trip!

When I found myself waking up before the alarm at 4:55 to get them out to the bee yards, I knew after six years, I was finally on my way to being a real beekeeper.

5:30 all three nucs were sitting on the base of their newly prepared homes. The beautiful melodic song of a wood thrush heralded their arrival. Wait... aren't they flying insect eaters? Hmmm... 

Stand by me...

The bees were really ready to burst from that box! When I went back that afternoon to transfer them into the hives they immediately spread out over the 8 frame hive deep and medium super filled with drawn comb frames.

Pollen foragers were coming in loaded already!

She's thinking: "I go out shopping, come back, and the contractor has already been and gone; but where's the door?"

I had a few confused young bees not used to the light.

STAND BY ME... Nurse bees and young bees are "photosensitive" This forager made haste to stick with this young bee who was disoriented in the move.

Da Bus

I never had to deal with a cardboard nuc box before so my first attempt threatened to roll a lot of bees while taking the frames out. I lost some on the ground, although I had a white sheet with me in case that should happen. Some pieces of beeswax comb came in handy. The photosensitive bees clung on to a piece as I "drove" it by them on the ground. "Here comes the bus! Hop on!" 

"Here comes the bus! Hop on!"
and they did. I had few if any casualties during the three transfers.

Leveling it all out...

There is a better way! Must come back and fix the stones!
Hives MUST BE LEVEL. If they are not, the bees will build comb that is despite the beautiful frames you supplied them with. They just build one next to it that is STRAIGHT. Picky devils. For some reason most leveling went smoothly but on one hive I had such a hard time. Even after the install I had to put wedges in to make it straight. i will go back and find a way to get it right once the shock of their big move is over.

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