Learning about Beekeeping

new momma for the girls

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uncorking the queen

Many thanks to Ken for helping me yesterday with my queen and observation hive! The hive is a bit of a beast – it’s so much easier with two people and more experience (Ken’s, not mine).

Anyway, here’s the queen cage with queen and attendants – same one we saw yesterday, only in this pic Ken is uncorking the end. You’ll notice the white bit – that’s the ‘candy’ that the bees will need to chew through in order to free the queen. The cork is a precaution – there’s so much candy there that Ken also made a wee hole through it to get them started.

Figuring out where in the observation hive to put the queen, that was a bit of a challenge. There’s really no space big enough to accommodate it. Hives are built like that on purpose  – any empty space would get filled with comb anyway.

We tried mushing the cage into the frame, as you can see in the pic below:

queen in the comb

You can see the hive bees all over the newcomers, checking them out! It’s a good thing there’s a screen there, or the battle would be epic.

This configuration wasn’t going to work, though, because we couldn’t get the glass on due to the cage in the way. We left them there for a bit while we thought about it, so they could get used to each other.

Finally I decided to just get out my wrecking ball and make a space:

queen cage in the hive

I managed to snap a bit of the plastic and mangle the comb before Ken stopped me and got some tools that were better suited to the job. Now it fits just right! There’s space for the hive bees to inspect the newcomers, and there’s space at the top, where the candy hole is, for the queen to come out once they’ve eaten through the candy. AND – most importantly – the glass is back on.

What a day. A sweaty, sweaty day. Filled with defensive bees. There’s nothing like being in a cloud of buzzing bees, courageous defenders pinging off the screen in front of your face, then suddenly feeling drops of sweat trickle down your chest and back. Oi!!

So glad we got the ob hive running, though. I want to show everyone! I’m running some honeybee workshops in late July and early August, where I will use the ob hive, so hopefully that will help with the urge to show and tell.

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