Our package bees arrived last night after a long and harrowing trip from sunny Chico, California, to the cool weather of Minnesota. Their arrival was delayed a day after they were temporarily stranded in Wyoming due to a snow storm. Our bee supplier, who lives only about 15 minutes from our home, received 800 packages of bees from the truck carrying around 2,400 packages (about $100,000 worth of bees!). These are some of the pallets sitting in his yard when we arrived.
Although most of the bees were inside the packages, there were several “hitch-hikers” flying around too. You can see some of them on top of the packages.
I was hesitant to approach the crates to take pictures, but the bee guy reassured me it was safe.
“They won’t hurt you. Come closer. They’re good girls.”
So I bravely told our son to go over by the bees so I could take his picture. 🙂
Once we got the bees home, it was time to install them in their new homes. Jesse sprayed them with sugar syrup to slow them down and make them easier to shake out of the package.
He was not wearing any protective gear because we only have two bee suits and both of the boys wanted to help.
After spraying them with the sugar-water, Jesse first removed the queen from the package. She is in a separate little cage inside the package. Her attendant bees stuck close to her.
Time to shake the bees out of their package and into the hive.
The bees explore their new digs and after shaking the majority of the bees out of the package, they released the queen down in hive. She was quickly surrounded by her attendant bees.
Because it is early in the season and no pollen is yet available for the bees, we are providing them with some supplemental food in the form of pollen patties (on right).
We are also feeding them a sugar syrup mixture to get them through the next few weeks until the first crops are available (usually dandelions). The feeding bucket has tiny holes that drips the liquid out when inverted on top of the top board.
Notice that Jesse ended up having our youngest hand over the bee suit after being stung on the head! Turns out the bees were a little cranky after being banged around and dumped out of their package and into the hive. I would not be surprised if they were also a little upset about being relocated from warm and sunny California to Minnesota. That would make me crabby too.
The installation of the second hive went a little smoother and by the time we finished it was almost completely dark. It is best to install the bees at night so that they can acclimate to the hive for several hours before the worker bees take off to forage.
Here is the queen for our second hive.
After putting the queen into the hive, Jesse carefully replaced the remaining frames being very careful not to squish the queen.
The bees are now installed into their hives and ready to start their work today. We are hopeful for a successful beekeeping season with healthy and productive bees!