Farm Life

Beekeeping Day 1

05.11.16

Last weekend we finally got the long-awaited call letting us know that our bees were here. Anthony and I drove up to Watertown early Sunday morning and picked them up. The amount of bees that were waiting for other people to pick up was incredible, as shown below. Can you imagine what the place looks like in California, where they originally ship from?

bee packages up close
These are the packages the bees come in; we bought two packages and each comes with one Queen

Bee packages

Closer bees in warehouse

Bees in warehouse
This is only a portion of the bee package pallets in the warehouse

The two of us have been going back and forth for about 6 months (no lie) as to where we were going to put the bees. You would think there are a ton of options on a 5 acre property, but we had an EXTREMELY difficult time agreeing on their placement. I wanted to put them up on the parkway – close to our fruit trees, away from where people would be bothering them all the time, tucked into a line of bushes that would hopefully have enough branches to protect them from the north wind in the winter. The large trees in that area would also provide them with dappled shade, which is perfect for the bees – not too sunny and not too shaded. So I pled my case for the 150th time and we set them up on the parkway.

Anthony on parkway

Anthony on tractor
I’m pretty sure he is looking at the hives, thinking “how soon can I move these?”

Anthony still didn’t think there would be enough protection in winter from the north wind up on the parkway and he didn’t want to have to build anything. He wanted them next to his garage, but that’s an area where I plan to plant sunflowers and still need to tear up all of the grass to do it. Plus I thought it was way too close to the garage and where people would frequent, and Gigi runs around in that area from time to time.  Nevertheless, Anthony and I picked the beehives up from the parkway and moved them back to the garage just a few days after placing them. Back to the drawing board.

Bees back in the garage

We then decided to put them on the old water tank; Anthony even asked our neighbor Kevin to come over with his skid loader to move the large cement planter off of the tank to a different area to make room for the hives. Later, when I pointed out that there was absolutely no shade for them, Anthony began to rethink this placement.

Bees on the way home in the backseat
Bees on the way home in the backseat

When we arrived home with the bees, we put them in the cool garage to wait for our friend Rick (remember him, here?) to come over and help us with the installation. Then we took the hives back out to the parkway where they originally were and set them up again. Beekeeping was exhausting so far, and we didn’t even have the bees in their hive boxes yet! After getting the hive boxes set up, we got all of our equipment ready in the garage and went inside to make the bees some food. To supplement their diets while they are first starting out, we mixed 10 pounds of sugar with hot water in a 2 gallon bucket that we had pre-drilled with tiny holes in the top. We would be turning it upside down over the hive box once we put the bees in the hive box.

I have to admit, I was so severely nervous. Anthony has been out with our friend and mentor Rick twice to help him with his hives, but this was my first interaction with the bees. Rick called to tell us he was on the way, and to spray the bees in their boxes with sugar water to give them something to eat. When he got to our house, he had us spray them one more time, then we set out. Here is the video of Anthony installing the second hive after Rick installed the first. I have to say we are in great hands with Rick; he is so knowledgeable, calm and extremely helpful.

Rick brought along some of his extra bees to supplement our hives. He was concerned we were getting our bees so late in the season, so he told us that he would give us some drawn comb to help our bees get a jump-start on their work. I didn’t realize that he was also adding in some bees with those frames. I can’t stress enough how invaluable this gift from him is. This is not something you can buy in a store, and it really boosts our chances of getting our own honey this year. Rick is a very giving person and loves bees so much – it seems as if he wants everyone to be successful and have happy bees and to love it as much as him.

We did it!

I stopped feeling nervous once I was filming Anthony and Rick. The humming of the bees kind of made me feel calm, in a weird way. Rick told us that they sounded happy. I kept thinking about some of the people I know that are deathly afraid of bees and their buzzing; I can see why they might have been freaked out. I’m just relieved that I didn’t freak out and that I actually liked it. In the video, you see Anthony put a small marshmallow in the end of the Queen’s cage – the worker bees will slowly remove the marshmallow to release the Queen and get used to their new Queen in the process. If all goes well, they will release her and everyone will get to work.

Anthony and Rick

Our next move is checking on them 5 days from the time we installed them, which is Friday. We will be checking to see that the Queen has been accepted and that everyone is doing the job they are assigned to do – drawing comb, laying eggs and getting along. As with all things here on the farm, wish us luck!

9 comments on “Beekeeping Day 1”

  1. Another exciting adventure for you and Ant! Just love hearing about them all. Love to you two!!!

  2. Your experience with the Bees is totally exciting and you all seem to be doing an expert job! You are lucky to have such a good mentor! Can’t wait to see them in July! Good Luck!

    1. We are so lucky, Rick is amazing. Thanks for the luck, and I think you will be hooked when you see them this summer.

  3. It looks exciting and thanks for explaining everything. It’s so interesting, I can’t wait to see them.

    1. Because Rick is a bee superhero! He says he’s been doing it for 25 years and that’s how he feels most comfortable.

  4. Where is Rick’s protective gear/clothing?!?!?!?!? Good luck to you, Anthony … and your Queen!

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