Bee Resetting…

Well, we seem to have failed in our first beekeeping attempt. The hive is deserted with quite a number of dead bees in the bottom super. We don’t know if this is a result of our replacing the top super with a new one on the bottom last month, new materials for the new super, stress on the bees during the switch, or what. As the bees can’t be replaced until the spring, we have some time to research this and ponder.
A sad day.

08-14 Hive Inspection

Hive inspection today. The little gals are busy; looks like almost two full supers of honey, comb being built in the third and possibly bottom super.

Honey!

Hive inspection today. We opened up the hive and found the top super weighed something like 10-15 pounds – amazingly heavy!
We also added a prototype of a new super I’ve designed after looking at all the versions of observation hives I’ve seen. It’s not perfect, but it’s close, and the next ones well be better.

Building comb

We inspected the hive this morning. I still haven’t seen the queen in there, but then again I’m slowly building up my confidence when it comes to calmly removing top bars and inspecting them while the bees seem to get a bit pissed off. Also, I don’t seem to have the smoking technique down quite yet, as the bees sometimes ignore the fact that I’m blowing smoke in their little faces.
But in the top box, it looks like 6 out of the 8 bars have fully-built-out combs. I slid one out, a little surprised that it wasn’t attached to the sides yet – perfectly straight comb, covered with bees, and looks like honey on the back side.

Next time I hope to find evidence that the queen is healthy and busy – in the meantime, I’ll be doing more research to understand what that actually means.

We bee hiving!

The bees arrived this weekend.
All 10,000 of them.

Notified of shipment last Tuesday, we expected them by Friday, US Priority Mail. Arriving home from work on Friday, there was no box of bees, no note in the door, and of course, unlike UPS or FedEx, USPS doesn’t update you during transit, only “each evening”. With no options, we went out to dinner and hoped the Post Office would let us know about the bees before they died in transit. The bees that is.

7 pm Friday evening, just as we’d ordered food at an area restaurant, I received a call from one of the workers at the local post office.

“The last truck brought in a box of bees… and I don’t know what the heck to do with ’em here… I feel very uncomfortable.”

We agreed to pick up the bees after dinner, a 5-minute drive from our restaurant. The bees were pretty dormant, but obviously alive, and spent the night in our garage.

The next morning, the fun began.

Keep in mind this is my first time as a beekeeper. I’d done the research, read hundreds of postings on the web, attended local beekeepers’ meetings, registered my to-be apiary with Washington State. I’d acquired the hive, the tools, and the highly-fashionable clothing. The thing is, just about every account of “proper” beekeeping seems to conflict with every other account – and some accounts contradict themselves in mid-post. In the end, I’d sort of taken a very non-scientific sampling and plotted my course somewhere along what I perceived as the mean. In short, I’d gone with a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Assed Guess). With 10,000 bees.

Sarah, my wife, handled the photo/videographer role with aplomb. All in all, the installation took about 10 minutes, and the bees seem pretty happy. First step taken!

More photos: bee package install photos

and a movie: bee package install movie