INSTALLING THE BEES

THE
DAY
HAS
ARRIVED.

I drove down to the store wherein my two packages lie waiting for my arrival. Our journeys have been long, arduous, and not all of us have made it to this moment. But we are finally united at once.

Okay but for serious, I wanted to hug everyone, step up into the truck filled with bees, and give an Oscar acceptance speech. Instead I listened to the guy explain how to install the bees (I’ve realized at this point that every one of these spiels is different because bees are complicated and everyone does things the way they want), pulled my car around, and PUT THE LADIES IN MY CAR YAAAAAAAS. I set them behind the driver’s seat on the floor and another guy comes up to me and asks, “You’re putting them THERE?” “Um….yes?” (Not sure if a trick question.) “I was gonna put them in my TRUNK!” “Oh, I would but it’s full.” (Finally starting to realize he’s saying oh my head you’re putting thousands of bees right behind your head while driving this is fine.)

Normal person: STOP THE CAR THERE’S A BEE IN HERE
Me: *opens car door* Yes, this way please. *thousands of bees pour in* I will be your chauffeur today.

The store owner told me “drive safe” which I realized had different implications than usual.

“Drive safe, THERE MAY BE BEES.”
“Drive safe or there WILL BE BEES.”

Either way, I drove well, the ladies all behaved, and we made it home without incident. I’m sure the classical music helped.

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LOCKED AND LOADED WITH BEES

At this point they mostly just seemed like a box when I put them in and drove them. I’m not sure if I just didn’t notice before but when I took them out they were VERY BUZZY. Maybe they got warmer? Maybe the reality of BEES finally dawned on me?

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Anyway, I put them in the garage since it was drizzling, washed my hands very well, got them some water, and dabbed it onto the screen with my fingers so they could get a drink if needed.

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Also I took pictures.

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At this point in my brain they’re just one clump of bees. Not thousands of individual bees. “I’m here for my two clumps of bees, please.”

I’M ANTSY. I WANNA GET THESE GALS IN THEIR NEW HOUSE.

But the rain is doing its falling thing.

I decide, as a good and proper Avenger, it’s:

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Protip: scratching your face while suited up is very difficult. I bet you never think about THAT downside to being Ironman, huh?

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It can be done, but not gracefully.

I put the feeders in, psych myself up, then wait.

Eventually I see a break in the clouds and decide IT’S DO OR DIE. PREFERABLY NOT DIE. I’ve been training for this moment my entire life.*

*For the past year.

I manage to wrestle the hive roofs off, make space for bees, and try to FEEL CONFIDENT. Here’s the plan: pull the feeder can out, grab the queen cage, put the feeder can back in to keep the workers contained till I’ve placed the queen, pull the cap off the queen cage, make a little hole with a screw or nail, put her in the bottom of the hive, dump the bees in, put the top bars on, throw the roof on. Intermix snapping a few cellphone pics of my accomplishment and TA-DA, PERFECTION.

At least, that’s how it was SUPPOSED to go.

Now, before you get concerned that I screwed it up, nothing terrible happened (that I know of). But…it didn’t quite go as smoothly as I mentally planned.

First off, apparently I have a huge problem with getting those dang cans out. I used a screwdriver as leverage but it still was NOT EASY to get a hold of that thing and pull it out. Also there’s the fact that it opens the FLOODGATE OF BEES. I’m still trying to remember how, when I watched this being done, people just casually pulled it out, grabbed the queen cage, and slid it back in. Cause these ladies were like “DEATH FIRST IF YOU WANNA PUT THAT CAN BACK IN.” And, since I didn’t have the guts to start it out with just squishing a bazillion, I didn’t manage to cover it back up. So, they’re just coming out now. Oh well.

ANYWAY, this has me slightly flustered so I give myself a pep talk which always goes, “DEEP BREATH
THIS IS FINE
EVERYTHING IS FINE
STAY CALM.”

There are just so many bees.

I grab the queen cage and OBVIOUSLY the workers and/or attendants are all around her like a tiny bee ball. I am, meanwhile, trying to see if she’s alive in there, making every Canadian proud by saying “sorry” individually to a thousand creatures as I try to brush them aside with my clumsy gloved hands. Short story long, I’m 75% sure I saw both queens moving around and alive SO THAT’S GOOD.

Anyway, I start to plop the first queen in and then after my pep talk remember DON’T BE A DUMMY, YA DUMMY, you have to pull the cap off so they have access to the candy and can chew her free!!

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This was the type of cage my queen was in btw. Pic from Assebee.com because AS YOU PROBABLY GUESSED I did NOT manage to take pictures during all this.

Here’s the thing, again, no one ever seemed to have trouble with this in their videos, but I COULD NOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME manage to get the cap off for some reason. Probably because I didn’t want to move the bees over so I could get a good grip. Eventually I did, then made a little hole with a screw so they would have an idea of what was needed to free the queen. I decided to put her in the bottom which was my plan all along. I’m feeling good about that decision because in all the cap nonsense I busted off the little hanger and I just think hanging it would’ve stressed me the crap out.

IMPORTANT EDIT: APPARENTLY you’re NOT supposed to put the queen on the bottom unless the temperature is going to STAY ABOVE 60 degrees. I’m not sure why that wasn’t on ANY OF THE PREVIOUS THINGS I READ. So probably both the queens will freeze. I attempted to go back in to hang them but decided it would cause so much chaos and probably not result in my success, so I’m hoping they somehow both get released very quickly. Probably hoping in vain.

SECOND EDIT: I went in and (attempted to) wire the queen cages to a top bar. Hopefully it holds. I have a lot of complaints about queen cage design. I also now understand why some people are afraid of bees. They clearly have decided they love their queen because it was a bit terrifying how aggressively they were trying to murder me. Hopefully they don’t abscond.

Aside: If you were wondering, why is the queen in a CAGE? The answer is that technically this isn’t THEIR queen. It’s a queen that’s been foisted on them and THEORETICALLY in the time it takes them to free her by chewing the candy in the cork her pheromones will have converted them all into lifelong followers. Like a cult or something. (LOL) There is the chance that they don’t accept her, and still murder her face when she gets loose. BUT WE TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT THAT.

I had talked with the store guy about putting the queen on the bottom and he said he hangs it because he doesn’t want to have to get down to the bottom of the hive. I’m gonna be in there in three days to get it out anyway, so…I guess we’ll see if I regret it. I just feel like having to worry about them drawing comb around it if it was hanging off the top bar wasn’t worth it for me. Hopefully it all works out fine.

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Langstroth and Warres have gaps between the tops of their bars so I think hanging is easier. Picture from Sourwood Farm.

After the queen was placed I dumped the bees. I really enjoy watching this part, but doing it was…more intimidating than expected? I was telling some friends it’s weird how “fluid” they are. Like a very pliable silly putty made with bees and not very touchable.

It’s just like, there are no bees, *dump*, THERE ARE FOUR INCHES OF BEES. WEIRD.

Video for those who don’t know what I’m talking about:

Anyway, again, dump them in, put the top bars on, it’s EASY. Except I don’t know if it’s because of how slowly I did everything or what but they were all like “HEY OOOOO LET’S CRAWL EVERYWHEREEEEEE” and it was suddenly like playing hot lava except bees and I didn’t want to squish or trap any BUT IT WAS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE.

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OH NO I SQUISHED ONE

Anyway, putting the roof on was kinda mayhem BUT I THINK WE MANAGED.

Then I did it with the second hive and it went better? But also differently? They seemed more active and ALL crawled up to where I needed to rest the top bars. WHATEVER. The dogs also decided to help the stress levels by BARKING AT WHO KNOWS WHAT almost the whole time. Eventually Finn laid down and just watched from the pen.

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Workers fanning the queen pheromones out of the entrance hole so the other bees will know where she is.

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What I imagine queen bee pheromones say.

ANYWAY I’m sad there aren’t pics but I figured that wasn’t really the priority. They’re all in the hives, I’ve been watching from the house as a bunch do orientation flights, and I saw a few buzzing around flowers about fifteen minutes after putting them in the hive. Praying they all become HAPPY FAMILIES, appreciate the hives I built, and start making the new homes their own!

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One thought on “INSTALLING THE BEES

  1. Pingback: Before Social Media, There Were Forums | VanBow

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