Now that we had the hive built out and our beekeeping supplies in place, it was time to install the bees! Since Mark recently started a new job (yay!), he wasn’t available to help me introduce our bees to their new home. Luckily, my dad stepped in as my trusty assistant and photographer – thanks dad!
First thing we did was spray the box of bees with sugar water. This pre-occupies them with cleaning themselves off while you install them into the hive. The box comes with a can of sugar water to feed the bees while they are in transit. We had to remove the can to get into the box. Contrary to what you may think, the bees don’t just all fly out once the top is open. a few crawl out but they are pretty chill overall.
One of my friends insisted that we name our queen bee (thanks Sarah Summies!) – so without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Queen Beeyonce. (She’s the one on the inside of the cage, her attendants are on the outside.)
Since Beeyonce is coming from a different hive, she needs to be protected, yet still accessible to the other bees so she kept in cages with screens so the other bees can still feed her and a cork for easy release when it’s time for her to join the rest of the hive. The other bees need to get used to her pheromones before we release her or else they will kill her and we’ll be left queenless. Our bees had been hanging out with Beeyonce for a few days already so they weren’t acting aggressive toward her, but just to make sure, we waited a few more days before letting her out.
Next, it was time to transfer the bees from the box to the actual hive. First, I took out a few of the frames in the middle of the hive to make room. Then came the “fun” part – I had to shake the box of bees into the hive. Now this isn’t the only way to do this – every beekeeper has their own way to do everything, but this was the way I learned from our beekeeping class.
Though it may seem counterintuitive to be shaking up a box of bees – they were still totally chill and content to be cleaning off the sugar syrup and just hung out in the hive once they were there.
I took a quick video of them once they were settled in a bit, check it out below.
Next, I needed to secure the queen cage in the hive. The cage comes with a metal tab that I bent over one of the middle frames and nestled the other frames against it to hold it up. We’ll be back in a few days to release her if the bees haven’t done so already by eating through the cork plug.
Lastly, I carefully closed up the hive, leaving a jar of sugar syrup with a few holes in it and a pollen patty in the top box so they could continue to eat while flowers are still scarce, and leaned the bee box against the front so that the stragglers that were left could make their way into the hive on their own.
My dad and I stopped about halfway back from the hive to the house to gently brush off any stowaways.
We’ll give them a few days to get acclimated to their new home and then check in to release the queen.