Our first winter here in the Pacific Northwest was cool and damp, as they tend to be. And, perhaps as a result, both of our bee hives left without a trace. I was sad to see that they had gone, though one of the hives was extremely aggressive.
So we decided to try to install 2 new bee hives this spring. Having never done something like this before, I was unsure, very unsure, how successful we would be.
The area bee keepers club started meeting again just in time – literally days before the 2 packages of Italian bees were to arrive. We went to our first bee keepers meeting. Everyone was incredibly nice, friendly, and helpful (They’re also amazing cooks. We had a pot luck!).
The guest speaker walked us all through the process of installing a new queen bee and all of the worker bees. He had props and showed us every step. It all seemed to make perfect sense. But, could we actually do this successfully?
At the meeting we met two additional neighbors who live extremely close to us and also keep bees. They offered their help in any way they could. How nice is that!
Before our bees arrived, we worked ferociously cleaning up the old hives. This was a very, very big task. We got everything in our bee keeping supply area neatly arranged and organized. We built out our frames and foundations and had two brood boxes ready to go. One of our neighbors came over to offer an assessment of how we had setup everything for the installation. He gave us a few final tips for mite management and said we were ready!
Our bee packages arrived on the first Saturday in April. We followed the steps we had learned to the letter. There were a few unexpected issues, but nothing too major, and everything seemed to go according to plan. Our only concern was the weather was just not cooperating! It was cold, damp, and had rained both before and after installation. But we managed.
It worked! When we dumped the packages into their respective hives, the bees seemed very happy. They immediately set about doing their bee thing: rearranging the furniture and painting. They really made quite a sound inside the hives – sort of a roaring hum.
Four days later we checked to be sure the queen had gotten out of her cage successfully. She had. All of the bees were working busily in their respective hives. Everything seemed on track.
Today is now about 6 weeks after installation and was another routine checkup day. We gave them more sugar water. They are going through a lot of it as we are having such an unusually wet and cold spring. But they are working feverishly, building comb in their second brood box now, which we added a couple of weeks ago.
These bees, unlike the previous hives we had, are not at all aggressive. In fact, they’re at most slightly curious when we are working their hives, adding food and making sure things are going well for them. Generally, they are so busy they just completely ignore us.
Hopefully the wet and cold weather pattern is finally changing this coming week to a drier, warmer, more normal spring season. I think the bees are happiest when they can get out and into the gardens. I find it interesting that, as if on cue, when the temperature hits 49º, they are out and about working ferociously.