Well, we’ve received and hived our first package today! This morning I was fixing breakfast before going to work and the dogs started barking. I looked out and saw the mail carrier’s Jeep coming up the drive. She was as excited as we were! She’d made a special trip out to deliver the package before going back to the post office to load up for her regular deliveries.

This package is from Gold Star Honeybees, raised on small-cell and treatment-free. It was cool this morning when delivered so they were a bit subdued. Not a lot of dead bees, either. I showed them to my wife and put them down in the basement on top of the freezer to wait until I got home.

I managed to get home a little bit early. We were excited. I wired a piece of brood comb bought from GSH to a bar I’d brought in previously. We gathered up our things for the walk out to the hive. I brought the bees up from the basement and set them down in the family room. Several of our cats came to have a look but didn’t get too close. We put our tools and stuff (feeder and jars, notebook, etcetera) in a box (we really need to get a good plastic box to keep this stuff in) and walked on out. The temperature was about 67 and cloudy.

At the hive we loosened up the strap we have holding it down and opened the lid. We took out some bars and moved the follower board over a bit to accommodate the feeder. I placed the bar with the brood in place and we started to get down to the hiving process—but first I took a photo of Rhonda with the package.

I opted to let Rhonda do most of the hiving as she probably won’t be here this weekend when I’m expecting to pick up our second package. She started to go at the cover when I remembered we hadn’t done anything to distract the bees. She’d wanted to go with spraying the bees with syrup and I’d wanted to brush the screen, but I’d forgotten to bring out a container of syrup whereas she’d brought the sprayer. Unfortunately, she found that the sprayer had clogged and wouldn’t spray anything but a stream. I went back to the garage and got out a new paint brush. I poured syrup from the spray bottle onto the brush and started painting the screens. The hum of the bees dropped quite a bit! Once they were calmed down a bit we pulled the syrup can out, and then the queen cage.

We looked into the queen cage and Rhonda noted that the queen was fine, but all but one of her attendants were dead—and one of those was imbedded in the candy. We’d been going back and forth on doing a direct release or hanging the queen from a bar (I wanted the direct release, but said that if we hung it from a bar it should be in front of the comb we put in.) Well, with things being the way they were in the cage we opted for a direct release.

Rhonda bumped the package a couple of times to get the bees down on the bottom, then started shaking them into the hive. Once she had most of them out I tried to pull the end cork from the cage, but it slipped inside instead. It went to one side. I held the cage down in the hive and the queen came out and disappeared into the mass of bees. I dropped the cage in so the remaining attendant could get out and to have as much of the queen’s scent in the hive as possible. That done, we gently placed the remaining top bars into place. Bees were flying all around us. We closed the lid, and looked into the hive from the observation window. We couldn’t see much other than a bunch of bees, so that was that. We went around the front of the hive and Rhonda placed the package on the ground below the entrance. We then stood back and watched, grinning at each other from time to time.

The bees that were outside the hive started landing around the entrance, with some going on in. Eventually there were quite a few gathered there. From time to time a bee poked her head out of the entrance, but for the most part they were going on in. There was a nice, steady buzz coming from the hive. Nothing that sounded overly excited, just a nice buzz. We took a few pictures, walked away from the hive a bit and brushed of the few bees that were staying with us, and watched as one of our dogs snapped at bees in the air. She’s always snapped at flying things, including bumblebees, but this time I think she got one. I don’t think she liked it.

One key thing that you might have noticed here was a complete lack of mention of a smoker! Nothing about problems getting it lit, nothing about using one at all. That’s because we completely forgot about it! We never felt a need for it during the entire process. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have had it handy or that we’re against using a smoker—we’d simply forgotten.

So there it is… our first package has been hived. We’re excited and looking forward to seeing how they get on in their new digs!

Cheers,
Tom