We had a brief window of good weather last night and were able to get Colleen's Royal Ruckus installed. These girls hale from California and arrived yesterday. We prefer to get our bees from Walter T. Kelley in Kentucky, mostly because the sell marked queens. However in order to get in on an early arrival date the bees have to be ordered in December and frankly we just don't know what our needs are going to be that early so we always error on the conservative side. This year of course we shorted ourselves on that order but as luck would have it we were able to get in on the California load just in the nick of time for one more package.
Paula's daughter, Kristen, an aspiring beekeeper joined us which was a blast. It is always fun to have new people come to the bee yard to check out the bees. I'd love to retire my nursing job and just take folks down to the bee yard all summer!
So we picked up the bees in Stillwater and headed to Northfield just as it was warming up a bit and the sun was poking through the clouds. It is a sad commentary when warming up in May is 45 degrees!
Paula and Kristen did most of the work, setting up the hive and Paula did a stellar job shaking the bees into the hive. I wish I had video because this was by far the best install we have ever done. Paula got darn near every bee in the hive. Usually we loose a few hundred but not last night! We released an unmarked queen without a hitch and then with a stoke of brilliance plugged up the hive with snow. The hive needs to be plugged for about 12-24 hours for the colony to get settled in their new digs. Today it is going to be 65 degrees so the snow will melt and I won't have to go back down to unplug the hive.
After we got Colleen's Royal Ruckus situated we turned our attention to The Turquoise Bee only to find the bees had not eaten through the candy cork. I am not exactly sure how long it usually takes them to do this, perhaps two days was not enough time but I am slightly eager to get that queen in there and make sure we don't turn the hive to drone with laying workers. So we released her ourselves after two days. Hopefully that was enough time for them to start accepting her, if not they may kill her. So keep your fingers crossed. The queen cage was covered with mild mannered bees and there were bees eating away at the cork so it seemed reasonable to just go ahead and release her. You can tell in the video that I am sort of on the fence about keeping the cage in another day to make sure she got out. It was so hard to see with so many bees attached to the cage. In the end we took it out.
You can also see I am not wearing my protective gear. I am hoping for a more relaxed wardrobe this year. It went just fine except for the plethora of bees flying up the sleeves of my jacket. I will keep you posted on the merits of this endeavor. More than likely I will be right back in it as soon as I see a tic. I have horrific tic phobia!
We also took a peek into Katrina's Drone Den to locate her queen. I was sort of disappointed in the lack of brood in there. This weather seems to be hampering the queens from laying. Next week looks to be warmer and hopefully dry.