Installing New Bees

Today was a fun day!  Despite the threat of rain and storms, it wasn’t too bad.  I was very glad for that as today was the day I picked up a new package of bees from Long Lane Honey Bee Farm near Champaign, IL.  I didn’t really want to get soaking wet while there and I was a little nervous about not getting to install them in their hive today.  As it turned out, it was raining lightly when we arrived there, but it stopped soon after.  And when I got home it was only mostly cloudy, warmish and had almost no breeze.  Perfect for putting them in their new home.

This is my second spring with honey bees.  Last April I got my first 2 packages of bees and the week that they came the weather was great.  It was in the 70’s and perfect for new bees.  Unfortunately, that only lasted a couple of days and then the temperatures plummeted and it was windy and damp and not good.  And it stayed that way for the next 3-4 weeks. By the time it warmed up, it was too late – my bees were dead.  Despite my efforts at keeping them fed, they must have been too cold.  They did manage to build up a little bit of comb and many climbed into it to stay warm, but they died there and I had to pull dozens of their little bodies out with tweezers so that new bees wouldn’t have to do all that housekeeping.

In May I got one new nuc colony to replace one of my packages. A nuc is a box with 5 frames of drawn comb with bees and a queen and whatever they’ve filled that comb with – honey, maybe some pollen and even some brood.  They survived the summer AND winter (a mild winter helped, I’m sure) and now there are a TON of bees in that hive.  I have high hopes of getting honey from that hive this year!

At the time I ordered that nuc, I thought the second hive would make it, but I was wrong.  By the time I knew I was wrong, it was too late to get more, so that hive has sat empty for the past 11 months.  There is a small amount of drawn comb to help out the new bees.  This is a picture of the box with the bees that I picked up today.  There are a lot more bees in there than it looks like, and I think there were more in this package than in the ones I bought last year.  I’ve put the hive top feeder on and filled it with sugar syrup.  The weather for the next 10 days, at least, looks great.  Things are blooming.  I’ve been watching my other bees bringing in a bunch of pollen.  So I think this new package will do well this year.  I’m hoping I might get a little honey from them this year, but if they just make enough honey to get themselves through the winter and be healthy next year, I’ll be a happy beekeeper :)