Excitement, nerves, bravery and then pure amazement.
So many feelings came and went on the day our bees arrived.
We had initially estimated that our bees would be arriving mid-May. When Mark emailed us on May 6th, while we were in Cuba, and said our nucs looked good and were ready to go upon our return we were ecstatic and overwhelmed! It was like we were going into labour early and the "bay-bees" were coming!
A day and time were set for us to pick up our new friends, and we set to work getting all the finishing touches ready. When the big day came we were so excited and so nervous.
We had never even encountered bees before and there we were, about to put 16,000 of them in the back of my jeep!
Heather and I mustered up our courage and set out in the afternoon to retrieve our new bees. When we got there, Mark had everything ready to go for us and it was a smooth transition. We made sure before we left that we could bombard him with questions in about an hour if necessary.
So off we went with two boxes, each filled with their own colony, in the back of the car! We expected it to be a nerve-wracking drive but surprisingly, we could hardly tell they were there! No sounds or anything from our precious cargo!
One little lady did manage to either tag along or escape and was hanging out in the car for the few last minutes of the drive home but we kept our cool and everyone survived the voyage.
When we got home, we quickly set to work. We suited up - head to toe - and set off to show our bees their brand new home. We decided one colony at a time would be best, to somewhat control the mayhem of releasing thousands of bees into the air.
We added 5 empty frames to our first hive, two on one side and three on the other with room for our new colony of 5 frames to go right in the middle. Everything was set and we were ready to unleash!
Opening up the first nuc, was a little daunting.
The lid was nice and snug (to prevent bees getting out and stinging us in the car) but was a little difficult to take off. When we did get the lid off, we noticed that the bees had already glued three frames to the lid and we were lifting the whole frames up by the lid!
We carefully set the lid back on and tried to use our hive tool to pry those three frames off. With no luck there we decided on "Plan Bee" and lifted the lid with the three frames attached and moved it (with a hand on the bottom to ensure they wouldn't fall) and placed the whole lid over the hive body. It was then much easier to get the frames to detach and everything was perfectly in place.
With the first speed bump behind us, we set in the other two frames with ease and made sure they were all nicely spaced apart.
We took out one frame in the middle and spotted the queen right away!
Something I definitely thought would've been one of the hardest parts! With a celebratory cheer, we got everything snug in the hive. The last thing left to do was to shake the rest of the remaining bees from the nuc box to the hive. We debated the best way to do this for a few moments and all agreed a few firm shakes was the most common method we had seen in our research.
Two of us took the nuc box, still with plenty of bees and gave a few firm shakes. We looked into the box and still noticed many bees inside. To help those stragglers along we used our bee brush to gently help them out of the box. We then left the box close by so the few that were still lingering would find their way home.
We were already getting used to all the bees filling the air around us, discovering their new home.
We then got the inner and outer covers on with no problems and sat back to watch in amazement all the bees circling above. The nerves in both Heather and I had completely subsided and gave way to a surprising feeling of contentment.
Who would've thought that a swarm of bees all around you would create a calming effect?
We sat and watched as the last of the bees in the nuc box all joined their sisters and made their way through the entrance to their new home. Slowly coming out of our bee-watching daze, we brought over our second nuc box and got ready for round two. This time already more confident and calm. We transferred all the frames, finding the queen in this colony with ease as well, and got most of the bees out of the nuc box with a few shakes and a little brushing. With that nuc box set to the side as well, we got all the lids on and congratulated each other on a job well done.
We sat back, relaxed, watched our bees find their new home and took lots of photos of our little models.
Our new beekeeping hobby has already felt so rewarding and we can't wait to share with you all the amazing new things we experience.