First Honeybee Cutout – Epilogue

Hive Stand

Hive Stand

The cutout of my bees from the wall of a workshop owned by a son of my boss took the better part of the morning and early afternoon. I was tuckered after that and it was hard to come home and get things ready for the hive. I left the hive next to the cutout location to give the foraging bees a chance to return before their home was removed. During the night, all the bees return to the hive and sequester themselves inside until morning. I still needed to place the hive-stand in it’s final location and plan the move. I had placed a couple of 2×4’s on top of the top-bar and secured it with duct tape to keep the bars from popping off during the move – so the hive itself was basically ready to be picked up and moved. But I still had work to do before then.

First step was putting the hive-support exactly where it was supposed to go. My hives will face East and West and give me an three or four foot isle between the two rows of hives to pull my cart and work. Each stand in each row will be a couple of feet apart so I can scoot between the stands to work on individual hives. So, positioning the first hive-stand was very important. My apiary is going to be fenced, and outside the fence on all sides I plan on putting garden-beds. I already have an appropriately shaped and conveniently located volunteer garlic bed that I just need to border and tweak some. With some measuring from that bed, giving me a couple of feet from the planned fence, I plopped the hive stand in place. Then I dug around the feet until it didn’t wobble and was perfectly level. First hive-stand is installed – 9 more to go eventually.

Then I waited impatiently for the sun to set. I wanted my bees to be home and even tho I knew they were happily in their hive at the time, I was eager to have them on my property and getting used to where my flowers were; getting settled in to their new home. I didn’t fully unpack the car – not knowing if I’d need the suit again, so there was little to do but enjoy a very nice Sunday evening with the family.

Hive is Home

Hive is home.

Finally it was dark-thirty. Time to go get them bees. The owner had offered to bring the hive in his pickup so I grabbed a cushion off one of the chairs for the hive to sit on to lessen the bumps on the way home. It wasn’t a long trip, but long enough to cause combs to drop if it was too bouncy. It was a nice moonless night – very dark and pretty cool. I expected all the bees to be tucked away within the hive.

When I got there, I peeked quickly at the entrance with a flashlight. Yep – nary a bee in sight. Since this is a drafty top-bar and the trip was very short, I opted to just slap a piece of duct tape over the entrance to keep the bees in while I moved the hive. The home-owner and I loaded the hive up onto the pickup and on the cushion. I was surprised that not a peep was coming out of the hive. I wasn’t sure what to expect since this was my first hive-move, but I thought there’d be some sign of activity.

The trip home was uneventful and brief. It wasn’t long before the hive was sitting on the stand. My babies were home! Once the pickup had driven off, I removed the duct-tape from the entrance of the hive and then went inside my house for the night. The bees were surely awake now from the jostling, but they didn’t fly out nor did they buzz at all.

A few days home

A few days home.

First thing in the morning, tho it was cloudy, I rushed out there to examine the hive. It was so quiet during the trip that I just had to be sure that the bees were still in there. And yes they were! I stood there watching bees coming out of the entrance and other bees returning – their first day on my property. I was thrilled! I walked thru the nearby wildflowers and watched the bees working them over. I really didn’t want to go to work that day – I was prepared to pull up a chair and park it in front of the hive and watch them. But hey, I watch my bamboo growing, so that’s not so odd for me. It fascinated me how some of the bees would do a loop above the hive before flying off to the flowers too. Hot-doggers!

It’s been a few days since then and I’ve observed the bees every day. There’s at least a pair of guard bees that greet me when I get close to the hive – buzzing me. When I go out there late, not dark but when the bees were already tucked in, I discovered that there’s always a solitary guard bee on duty and she would always buzz me as I got close to the hive. Very sophisticated, these bees.

Soon I’ll be breaking back into the hive to see how they’re settling in. I’ll need to check the combs, be sure the queen is laying and that they’re collecting pollen and nectar, and then start the top-bar shuffle – inserting blank bars between brood and honey combs to give them room to put more brood. I may take some of the scrap combs and tie them up in there as well – give them a head-start. The journey into the world of bees has begun and there’s no looking back.

Michael Vanecek

I've been keeping bees with no treatments whatsoever for several years. I've followed a basic philosophy of if the bees don't bring it into the hive then it doesn't get put into the hive with good success. After a life-time of naturalism, this was simply the logical course to take with honeybee husbrandry and proof is out there buzzing and making honey right now.

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