Bee transfer day. In which the bees are transferred from their nuc box to their forever home.
Yesterday afternoon I put together my wooden frames (properly, having been taught how) with wax foundation and build a stand for the hive, etc. It took much longer than I thought, although it was easy, fun-fiddly work, like making balsa wood airplanes, or something. All of a sudden the afternoon was gone. My least favourite part was the wiring. Nothing hard about it, I think I just don’t like handling wire. I used a bar clamp in lieu of a jig to compress the sides of the frames to string them and they all came out sounding like guitars. My very favourite part was melting the wires into the wax foundation with the battery charger. That was super fun. Also the very last step. I’m realizing now that no one but my fellow students will have any idea what I’m talking about here, and I didn’t take pictures.
Other than this one. One frame, all done.
Then I got my tools together and went out to handle my bees for the first time. I wore my suit because I was alone, and these stressed bees have every reason to be tetchy right now, so I did not expect them to be “lambs”, like Klaus’s bees. I moved the nuc box forward with the milk crate and took some time placing and leveling the hive stand behind it. I was glad I had the suit on because I got covered with ants. They are not amenable to being evicted. The ants were irritating me a bit (Leiningen vs the Ants in high school made an overly vivid impression on me. Although ants are pretty amazing too, I don’t like too many of them at once) so I took a minute to calm down before the main event.
And then, anticlimax. Bees were swirling all around the nuc box, confused, but I popped the lid, no reaction. I lifted out each frame and glanced at it and put it in the clean new hive, and that was it. No drama, no stings. Not even any agitation, really. I packed them back up with the feeder jar, which they’ve been ignoring.
For a few minutes, there was a crowd of bees hovering in front of the new hive (Something’s different!). I must have matched the height of the entrance exactly, because they immediately started landing on the porch, in the middle, and eventually began to walk inside. One bee led a crowd walk around up and around the front of the hive, and then they started using it like they’d always lived there. The airborne crowd dispersed.
Until I reduced the entrance with a stick.
All the bees still landed in the middle, which was now blocked, and walked back and forth, but not far enough to find the hole on the right. A confused crowd formed again in the air (Too many new things today!).
This was more challenging to them than the hive swap. The majority remained in the middle, frustrated. Eventually, another group walk around formed on the front of the hive. This little stroll up and around performed by a small pack of bees seems to be a marker of placefinding, or communication. It happens fast, but I saw it three times, right as they adjusted to change. Doorway change, specifically.
So, they are installed. I hope they like it here.
There are no guard bees, there is a steady but thin squadron of bees leaving and returning, and I saw some with pollen baskets. They seem very quiet.
I have to say, I could sit around in that suit all day. It really takes care of the horseflies. Very comfortable. The dog wasn’t sure what to make of it though.