On the 6th of the month, Sunday before yesterday, we picked up our bees from Jason at Our Handmade Life Co-Op. The queenless three-pound package was in between the two three-pounders with queens and the trio was held together with thin lath. The bees seemed in much better shape than last year’s package. We gave them a quick spray with sugar syrup, which they did not really seem to need, and carried them home.
Once there we took them to the waiting, side-by-side, south-facing hives. We would start one colony in the part of Annabelle that had been occupied last year, the part with the observation window. That would mean opening her easternmost entrance. To keep the two hive entrances as far apart as possible, we would put Beatrix to the west of Annabelle and open her westernmost entrance (She has observation windows for each end.) to start the second colony at that end. Each hive had her follower positioned to provide an eight top-bar long chamber for occupancy.
Instead of last year’s fancy kind of follower board with Boardman feeder we decided to try baggie feeders this year. These followers have an entrance-sized hole(7/8 inch) near the bottom allowing passage between the two sections of the hive, the one in which we put the bees and the one in which we put a one-gallon plastic zipper storage bag, about two-thirds full of sugar syrup with a few shallow cuts made in its top.
We first pried off the lath to separate the packages and then began with installing a queen in Annabelle. We again recommend this Gold Star Honey Bees video for details although we did deviate in the way we attached the queen cage. Rather than push-pin the queen cage to a top-bar as the video instructs or to the follower as we did last year, we decided to try yet another suggestion and rubber-banded it along the bottom of a top bar in the middle of the eight we are starting with. This will certainly require surgery to remove but was easier to achieve than messing with push pins. Unlike last year, this cage still had its sugar plug under the cork. Then we dumped in the rest of the bees from the package.
We next opened the queenless package, poured in as near to half of its content of bees as we could estimate, slid its cover back into placeand placed it next to the other package for warmth and queen smell as we put Annabelle’s top bars and roof in place.
We next repeated the procedure for Beatrix with the other queen, her package’s bees, and the remaining bees from the queenless package. Since Beatrix had not been previously occupied we had dropped a bit of old comb we had saved into the chamber to be occupied to make it smell more like home. Each queen’s mostly empty package box was left in front of ther hive and the queenless package box midway.
Still no stings so far. The only injury was a cut from the treacherous hive tool.