Covered in Bees, 2012: Installing a New Hive

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 8.442% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Last year, Gini and I had a very odd argument about which one of us was going to open up a box of 10,000 bees and dump them into a hive. This argument was made odder by the fact that both of us were arguing that we should be the one to do it.
I won the right to install the hive, and the rather quickly taken video can be found here.  But this year, I got to be cameraman as Gini handled the bees, and so we have much more extensive videos.  For example, if you want to see what a box of 10,000 bees looks like, here is Gini holding three pounds of live and flying bees in a wooden box, with my explanations about how the bees survive the trip and the mechanisms of what one has to do to open it.

Now.  What was not captured on video was THE MOST TERRIFYING SOUND OF MY LIFE.
See, when you get a wooden box full of bees, you have to put it in your car to bring back with you.  In our case, we wisely stored it very far away in the trunk.  And I was getting some honey-bee-healthy out of the front seat when Gini opened the trunk and I heard “Oh shit!” followed by the sound of clattering wood.
When you know you have 10,000 bees contained in a small wooden box, this is a sound that encourages pants-filling.
Fortunately, it was just the new hive top falling out of the back, but for a moment all and sundry imagined how we would deal with an angry swarm of emerging from a broken bee-box. (Even if it probably wouldn’t have been overly bad – I mean, if you watch the third video you’ll see what happens when they’re dumped out, and it’s actually rather lackadaisical. Still, the business of scooping up a bunch of bees from our driveway using magazines would have been a hoot.)
Having survived that, I now explain how you prep the bees before opening them so they’re nice and mellow:

This next video is the money shot, as it’s a close-up look as Gini, yes, dumps a bunch of startled bees out of their box and into the hive.  Unfortunately, this video’s about two minutes longer than I wanted, with lots of dead space, as Gini and I debated techniques for a bit (i.e., we bickered) about how to put the queen in and when to remove the can of syrup.  Still, if you want to see a close-up of how you actually transfer bees into a new hive, this is your best bet from La Casa McJuddMetz.

For the record: Gini’s bee-tamping technique is inferior, but her bee-dumping style trumps mine.  So in an ideal world, I’d thump the bees to the bottom of the box and then hand it to Gini for an efficient transfer.
Finally, the hive installed, I took a video of what it looks like when it’s done, explaining the various parts and functions of the hive.  Gini got stung once when a bee crawled up her sleeve and got scared, but there’s also a rather vivid discussion of the dangers (or not) of being stung in beekeeping and bee docility.

Now we have to leave the bees to themselves for a week, and check in. We have not yet opened up the other hive yet because it’s been a series of crappy weather days, but we hope to do that soon – and yes, I’ll document.

1 Comment

  1. Jericka
    Apr 22, 2012

    I love the videos. I have considered possibly setting up a hive and this is a marvelously eye opening post. Now I know a portion of what I would be getting into.
    Not that it’s scaring me off. I do like being well informed before I start big projects, though.

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