After losing our smaller hive in February, we decided to go ahead and order some bees. They were sold out, but I got on the waiting list and we got a call last week saying there would be bees available. Saturday I drove over to Washington and picked up our new girls. The nucs come in cardboard boxes with a brand new queen, five frames of brood, and many, many worker bees.
The drive went well, aside from the dozen or so girls that got loose and buzzed around inside the car while I drove home.
Our first introduction to the new girls, pretty exciting, and loud!
And here is one of our new queens! This little beauty is bred to lay 2000+ eggs a day and has been chosen for her superior traits and quality. She determines the genetics of the whole hive, so it's important that she is the best queen she can be. The new queens come housed in a cage, with a bit of tape over the candy plug. When the bees are installed, the tape is pulled off exposing the candy and allowing the workers to release the queen. By that time the workers will have accepted the queen and will be ready to go to work.
This is what makes the nuc so special. There are five frames of brood like this ready to hatch and go to work right away. With a swarm or package of bees you have to wait for the queen to lay eggs, and for the brood to mature before you get any new bees. That time lag sets the nuc ahead by a month.
And here is an installed nuc! The five frames are full, and the queen is secure in her cage in between the frames. All that's left is to feed them a gallon of syrup each and then leave them alone for a week to release the queen and get to work. In a few weeks they will have filled the rest of these frames and will be ready for a second box to be added.
So here's our "bee yard" today. The original hive on the left, with the two new ones on the right. By the way, the original hive, the one that was vacuumed out of the eaves last summer, is still going strong and appears to be happy and healthy. The yard has a audible hum now and the bee activity is very noticeable. Just in time too, since today I noticed the dandelions are blooming! Ordinarily this may not have been that exciting but now I just imagine how happy the flowers will make my bees.
Our other big news: we were very lucky and have recently been given unwanted bee boxes and equipment from two different people. So the next adventure is cleaning and prepping hand-me-down boxes and frames so that we are ready for the nectar flow. Bring it on!
Until next time. KJ