Bees, Bees, Bees

For those of you who don't know, my husband is a beekeeper. About 4 years after receiving our initial hive, my husband is slowly drawing my son and I into the whole business. As daunting as it is being around tens of thousand of bees at one time, I must say it is exciting. 

Upon recent inspection of our two hives, swarm cells were discovered so my husband decided to split the hives. This involved finding the queen to make sure she wasn't moved in the split. Standing several feet away from the hive, dh (who was suited up) smoked the bees and removed frame after frame from the hive while I (who was NOT suited up) helped him look for the queen bee. I was a little freaked out when a bee landed on my head and started to crawl under my hair but we got it out without incident! Whew! Shortly after, we spotted the queen and knew which frame to leave in the original hive and transferred 5 frames to a new hive. 

When we inspected the second hive, we could not find the queen nor could we find any eggs so this led us to believe that there was no queen. That created a problem with the hive split dh was going to do. We needed a queen. Actually, we needed two queens. One for the split hive, and one for the queenless hive. So, we ordered two Italian Queen Bees from Walter T. Kelley  and anxiously awaited their arrival. They arrived less than a week later with a knock on our door from the mail lady. I can't help but wonder if she was freaking out a bit handling the envelope they were shipped in.

You could hear them buzzing in the envelope.

Each cage contains 1 Queen Bee and several Worker Bees.

The weather hasn't been cooperating, and has been a little too cold the past two days to introduce the new queens to their hives so they had to be kept in a cool, dry, dark place and watered a couple of times a day until the temperatures rose a little.

We aren't quite sure what happened, because dh thought that without a queen, the bees wouldn't swarm. But, when the twins went outside to take the garbage out my daughter came back in and said she thought the bees were getting ready to swarm. Sure enough, this is what we saw:

If you enlarge the picture, you can see the swarm. It was a really cool thing to watch and the noise was unreal.
We were keeping our fingers crossed that the bees would stay close so that my husband could retrieve them when he got home from work. Luckily, they went into a tree in the empty lot next to our driveway.

The swarm, hanging off of a branch in a tree.

Close-up picture of swarm right before my husband cut the branch they were hanging on.

He got most of them, but there were still a lot flying around the tree. We are hoping they will find their way to the new hive.

The bees lining up to go into their new hive.
We are keeping our fingers crossed that all will go well, and that this swarm will accept their new queen. We can only watch and wait and check for  eggs and new brood. 

It was also a surprise to find out that the first hive we split made their own queen so now we have to figure out what to do with one of the two that we ordered. Right now, my husband doesn't have enough boxes made to try to start a new hive. Besides taking my daughter to soft ball practice and church, I guess I know what he will be doing all weekend!

As of right now, the frames are heavy with honey and I can't wait until harvesting time. I actually used to dislike the taste of honey until I tasted the honey from our bees. If you've never tasted raw honey like that, you don't know what you're missing! Store bought honey doesn't even compare. Mmmm....

Hope you have a sweet weekend!


Jennifer aGlimpseOfOurLife said...

My Powpow had bees years ago and last year decide he would try it again (after giving away everything but the boxes.) He ended up in the ER with ~40 bee stings so he gave the boxes to my hubby. Any information that you share will be appreciated. You are brave to have searched for that queen unprotected.