Thursday, July 25, 2013

Beekeeping: Installing a Hive

I haven't posted for a while about my bees...mostly because I have had a bit of bad luck with the hives!
After watching Anne Marie and Jason Klaske's videos in their beekeeping course {you can click HERE to purchase for just $10} I was inspired to update all of you on my bees!
The course is so thorough and a fantastic resource...I know you will love it if you are a beekeeping enthusiast :). 

Last year, I lost a hive to what we think was the chemical in treated corn seed.
They just slowly diminished until they were all gone by mid summer.
It was a bummer.

This year, we started out with two hives and both had a total colony collapse.
Yup...you guessed it...it was probably a chemical in agricultural spray.
One day they were alive and well, the next day the bees were all dead at the bottom of the hive.

Luckily, I have a great neighbor down the road, the "bee guy," as we affectionately call him.
The Bee Guy brought us a wild swarm and the hive is thriving!!

If you would like to view my first post on getting your hive ready and necessary gear, click here.
Today I thought I would share my personal experience on how to install a package of bees.
I went to a demonstration last year and took photos...then came home and successfully gave my little bees a comfy spot to start building a hive.
I am not an expert, so I am merely going to share my own experiences....hopefully you can gain some knowledge if you are thinking about starting to keep bees!
{Hives ready to pick up.}
To start out, you will need your package of bees, a hive ready to go with at least 10 fresh frames with foundation, a top hive feeder...or other source to feed bees, and a bottle of sugar water.

The Bee Guy explained that before opening the box of bees, you will spray them with the sugar water. This gives them a little something to "do" and takes their mind off of swarming.

Carefully remove the seal with a hive tool.

Use something to cover the hole as you lift out the seal.
Just inside will be the queen cage.
Locate it and gently lift it out.
Look! There she is...safe and sound.

Replace the opening ....which is usually cork...in the queen cage with a soft mini marshmallow. This will allow her to remain safely inside and for her workers to eat their way to release her.
Place the queen cage at the top of a frame somewhere in the middle.
{Here he had removed a few frames to make room.}
Now comes the fun part.
I am usually fully clad in gear to help protect me from a sting, but the Bee Guy is comfortable in shorts, a T shirt, and no gloves!
Gently shake all of the bees into the brood box.



Put the rest of the frames back in...making sure they are all even in space.
Put your inner cover on.
Set the package box that the bees come in next to the hive.
There are usually a few straggler that will make their way in later :). 

Fill your top feeder with sugar water.
This is important as there may not be enough pollen to feed the bees.
They will need two brood boxes full of honey to survive the winter.
So...you will need to feed them until it looks like at least 8 frames of the 2nd box are full {you will add that later.} In this picture, I believe he is using two shallow boxes in place of a larger brood box.

 To make the syrup, I boil a 50/50 mixture, careful NOT to burn the sugar.
Only use cane sugar...not brown sugar with molasses.
That can hurt the poor bees :).
You will need to check often to see if they need more sugar water. I am always surprised by how much they need!

Put the top feeder on.
A little later I will show you an alternate way to feed.
Add your top cover and you are in business!!
It is crucial to be checking on your bees frequently the first couple of months.
You really want to make sure they have eggs, brood, and that the queen is doing her job.

Here is my first attempt at installing a hive.
Look at the healthy package of bees ready to get to work.

My queen bee in her little house.
I decided to put her at the bottom...facing out so that she could be released by the workers.
It worked just fine.
My outfit for beekeeping....gloves and duct tape, boots and duct tape, and a hat with mosquito netting!
You can really "make do" if you have to!
Giving the frames a little sugar water too as I prepare to release the bees.

Shaking the bees in.





There were still a few left, so I just set the container close to the hive so that they could find there way in.

Putting the rest of the frames in and then setting my feeder in.
For directions on making the feeder, click HERE.
HERE is another simple way to make a feeder.
Place the feeder with the sugar syrup on top of the inner cover on two small blocks so that the bees can climb under.


Place an empty brood box on top.
Then add your top cover and you are set to go!
The process is fairly simple, but it is important to check up on your bees to see if they are starting to build comb, lay eggs, and have brood.
I will talk more about checking the hives in a later post :).


Happy beekeeping!

~Julia

PS: Thanks to my son Will for taking pictures!

6 comments:

Bonnie said...

I am loving these posts Julia. We have had two honeybee hives...one in our chimney in the city house which couldn't be relocated and had to be gased and one currently taken up through an1/8" hole in our roof. They are thriving there in the rafters so I have been taking some beekeeping classes. They've been there for two years and we finally found a beekeeper/contractor who is going to relocate them for us to hives. We decided to wait until next spring so they have ample time to make comb and survive the winter. I'll be checking in as you continue to post.

Joni said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing all your photos and information. My husband and I eventually want to start a hive or two. Keep us posted on how things go!

simplyfarmhouse said...

wonderful post..sorry about the bee lost. We use to see honey bees in our area..now it is a rare treat to see any. Sad, what the crop spray is doing to the bees. I would love to raise bees here one day. Love all the pictures.

Irontone and Pine said...

fascinating! I have always loved the idea of keeping bees and found the step by step really interesting. But you left one thing out......what about the stings?!! OUCH! How bad is it? Really enjoyed the post and the pictures Julia!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, so very interesting....I have never raised or kept bees...of course
we have plenty of wild honey bees. We had a neighbor have a swarm of them and they made hives on her roof and made honey. They had to have a bee man come and get them down because eventually they were coming in the house...it was amazing they were all over their windows, doors, everywhere....it was quite scary at the time. I think I like your way better definitely with all the duck tape!!
love the photos...great tutorial!
Corinne

Jennifer said...

Thanks for all the great photos and information!
We have two hives and came across some great information on using lemongrass & spearmint essential oils in the feeders, especially in spring. Just a thought to check out~it helps with mites...

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