Yesterday was the day. After all sorts of weather delays, my bee package finally arrived in New Mexico. My pick up location was a commercial apiary down in the South Valley. I do like a good field trip, so I was happy to take off the afternoon for an excursion. One thing I forgot to take into consideration, though, is that when you pick up a package of bees from a busy bee yard, there will be a lot of bees, not only inside the package, but all sorts of bonus bees will be clustered on the outside. Fortunately, those bees on the outside were mostly interested in the happenings inside the package, not, say, the human occupant of the vehicle. Anyway, after an uneventful ride home, I parked the box in the shade while I gathered my tools.
I didn’t bother spraying the bees with sugar water, so they flew around quite a bit after I opened the box to remove the feeder and queen cage. Honestly, it wasn’t the most elegant package install, but I discovered that I really enjoy working with bees.
I wired the queen cage to a top bar and inserted the candy plug where the cork stopper had been:
After the queen and a sugar water feeder were in place, I shook and poured bees into the hive.
It doesn’t take long for the bees to rediscover the queen and start working on that candy plug:
There was a lot of activity for the rest of the evening, as the left-behind bees worked their way out of the package and into the hive:
There was also a lot of exploration – the bees made short looping flights over the yard, I assume to orient themselves with the surrounds.
This morning, once the sun hit the east-facing entrance, activity resumed, but at a more ordinary level: bees arrived, danced, and left in an orderly manner:
Tomorrow I’ll open the hive again to check on progress. Hopefully they will have started to build comb, and if they haven’t freed the queen, I’ll give them an assist.
I will also start building the second hive. A few days ago I was able to assist my beekeeping mentor (there is a really active, helpful community of beekeepers here in Albuquerque) in catching a swarm. It was an easy one – the swarm was down low in a juniper shrub, so no ladders or saws needed. It was quite a bit of fun, catching a swarm, and since my mentor’s hives are pretty much full right now, if I get my second hive built quickly, I may get dibs if she gets another swarm call.