April and May are the best months to start a new beehive, so here we are trying bees again. After last year’s bee swarming disaster, we did a little more studying and got some help from some local friends with bees. We cleaned out the old hive boxes by scraping the waxy stuff off with our hive tool and replaced all the frames since most of them were falling apart anyway. Gave everything a fresh coat of paint since we had a couple of new boxes plus the paint peeling off the old ones. Then the afternoon of the arrival of the new bees, we took our trusty guide, “Beekeeping For Dummies“, and our new little box of bees and headed out to where the hive is set up.
In case you’re wondering, this is still sweet husband and son’s project–I’m just here for moral support and painting boxes and placing orders for supplies and reading the instructions from the book so they know what to do and finding marshmallows, but now I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here is our new box of bees. There’s a queen in a little box in there and a bunch of drones and workers and a can of sugar syrup for them to eat. This is how they arrive from the folks who sell them. Our beekeeping friend picked ours up with his from a place called Jones Bees in Salt Lake then we brought them home from his place.
Our hive is out past the garden by the fruit trees. It holds 10 “frames” that have “foundation” in them to help the bees get started making honeycomb. For the first week, we’ll only have 9 frames in there.
Get your bees ready by tapping the little box down a couple of times so the mass of bees in there falls to the bottom of the box. Now you can pry the syrup can out of the top and get the little queen box.
The queen is in a tiny box with corked ends. You’re supposed to remove one cork and stuff a piece of a marshmallow in the hole. This way the queen has to stay in the hive a couple of days while everyone else settles in and she eats her way out of the box. Here’s where we realized we didn’t have a marshmallow and had to go asking around the neighborhood for one real fast while the bees were still happy. Luckily, one neighbor had a sack of them. He was a bit curious when my three kids and I only wanted one marshmallow, so we’ll probably be sharing honey with him later . . .
Once the queen is marshmallowed in, place the queen box between two of your frames and secure it there with the metal band. At this point, you’ll only want 5-6 frames in the hive to make it easier to get all the bees in.
Now the rest of the bees are ready to move into their new home. Take your board off and turn the box over above the hive and shake them out. The majority of them fall out in a mass, but there are a few stragglers. When you have most of them out, just put the open box by the front of the hive and the rest will find their way in eventually.
Use the bee brush to sweep the mass together and off the edges of the hive where they can be crushed by the lid. Once most of the bees are in, gently add your remaining frames to the hive so you’re back up to 9 frames.
We’re using a top feeder to keep them fed and happy while we wait for more blooming to happen, so on top of the hive body, we put the top feeder.
Fill the top feeder with syrup. Our friend says a gallon of syrup lasts 20 days or so. To make the syrup bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, then turn off the heat and add 5 lbs of sugar. Mix until the sugar dissolves. Let this cool to room temperature before adding it to the hive feeder.
Once the bees are in and the syrup is in, it’s time to put the lid on and leave those little buggers alone for a week while they settle in and make themselves at home. We’ll post the hive checkup photos in the next post, so stay tuned.