Captain Malcolm ReynoldsWith that quotation from Captain Malcolm Reynolds let us report on our hiving. We picked up the three nucs from Dr. Milbrath Wednesday night and brought them home to spend the night on the deck. We then stayed up too late, winding down from the long drive and general excitement. So the following early morning found us with insufficient sleep, insufficient breakfast, and, worst of all, insufficient caffeine attempting to hive our bees as soon as possible. Needless to say we were not at our best and things did not go smooth smoothly.

We began by prepping each hive for a swift and orderly installation of bees: removing the roof, placing a baggie of syrup (not yet slit) within, putting a sealed nuc box nearby, and so forth. Misfortune struck nearly at once. The follower board in Dorcas got misaligned and stuck. As we had done for many test fittings we thumped it free. As had not happened before, the glass pane of the observation window cracked. Luckily it was in the middle behind a vertical wooden support where it would not interfere with observation and easily covered with tape. A diasappointing beginning nonetheless.

We began with Beatrix, lifting each frame from the nuc, inspecting it, and placing it in the hive. We cheered to see the brightly marked queen on a frame full of brood. One last frame had not yet been much drawn out. The others had a mix of brood and food. And then we ran into a slight hitch snugging up the frames. The second one was encountering the metal bracket holding in the window pane, which problem we readily fixed by slipping an empty top bar between first and second frames. With all the frames installed, we added two more top bars and the follower.

Noticing a fair bit of burr comb atop the frames, we scraped it off. Alas when one of us picked up a scraped-off wad of wax the bee attached to it went unnoticed, was squeezed, and stung a thumb tip in revenge. In spite of immediately scraping off the stinger and heavily smoking the sting site that same hand soon got an unprovoked sting to the back of its ring finger. We carried on natheless by placing previously prepared thin strips of wood over the gaps between frames1, covering it all with some denim, slicing slits in the baggie feeder, and replacing the roof.

We repeated the process with Clarissa without acquiring any more stings but without spotting the queen. And we noticed, as we hadn’t with Beatrix that the rooves sit a bit askew thanks to the thickness of the wood with which covered the frames. It is more noticeable on the new hives since their rooves do not hang as far below the top of the hive bodies. We shall do something.

Lastly we again repeated the process with Dorcas. No additional stings, queen spotted, and Dorcas seems to have the most brood of the three as well as the most active bees.

And so we adjourned to the bench to watch the girls. There was little activity yet, mostly stragglers from the nuc boxes trying to find out where the rest of their number had gone. As the day grew warmer we would see more flying. We, tired and hungry, preoccupied with the work ahead of us, were having trouble feeling the usual joy of bees. It will come.

1Horizontal hives have no gaps between top-bars since the bees do not need to access an upper volume. Frames made for vertical hives do have such a gap. We could have ignored but decided to try covering them.