Today we had a bee installation party. Well, sort of. Apparently various branches of my family wanted to come over to see if I would pull this off or end up like the boy in “My Girl”. And we had food after.
First things first, I geared up:
After that, it was time to spray them down with sugar water (apparently that makes them feel like I do after a pint of Ben & Jerry’s). From there, I had to go through the process of finding the queen. Being a first time beekeeper, I was not entirely familiar with how these bees were packaged – I knew somewhere in the mass of three pounds of bees was a little cage with a queen. There were a couple different little lids to pry off and eventually I found the right one.
Yes, I named her Queen Latifah. She’s a classy broad, after all. I had planned on naming her Queen Elizabeth, but Mike’s suggestion was way better. She had a couple of buddies in there with her (I think they’re supposed to help feed her), but she was alive and kicking. I stuck the cage in between two of the slats and proceeded to dump a few of the other bees on top.
After that, it was time to give them some food. I did some research on this and the easiest way was using a 1:1 sugar syrup and a gallon Ziploc bag. You lay it out on top of the frames and then cut some slits into it to give the bees access to the syrup.
After that began the scariest part for me… releasing the rest of the bees. Sugar-induced haze or not, those guys got a little agitated. The hum of that many bees (especially all over/around you) was a little nerve wracking. My brother-in-law Tim had warned me that they sense your mood, so I tried really hard to stay calm. After what felt like an hour I finally had all of them out of the box in front of the hive.
This was seriously quite the process. I was a sweaty mess by the time I was done, but I had no stings. It was such a cool experience! I walked down after dinner and all of the bees that you see on the ground in the above picture were gone… I’m assuming into the hive since they had been moving in that direction. I could see some flying around, but hopefully they’re all getting settled in for the night. This was so much fun!
Now for the hard part… no peeking for a whole week! If you do, they can sometimes turn on the queen!
Shout out to my brave mama for standing in the orchard with me, sans bee clothing, to take pictures! Love you!