We picked up our two packages of bees on Sunday afternoon and got them installed just an hour or two before some light rain fell in the evening. Sting count: null. The Italians and the Russians behaved very differently. The Russians were extremely active at all times, but grouped themselves tightly together in a seething, vibrating mass. The Italians were initially much calmer. When they did become more active, their activity looked more purposeful, and they spread themselves out much more. Who knows what these things portend?
Izhevsk: home of the Russian bees
I've named the Russian hive Izhevsk, and the Italian hive Foligno. Both are named for places I've visited repeatedly and spent time getting to know. I was relieved to have both packages safely installed. Now begins the watching, tending, and learning.
Foligno: the hive of the Italian bees
Each colony was given two pounds of honey, somewhat diluted, in their frame feeders. I left the pots I mixed the feed in, as well as the feeding cans that came with the packages in an empty deep above the deep with the feeders and frames. They'll probably need more food soon. After the installation was done, we sat and watched the hubbub, feeling quite safe in our bee suits. We saw a few bees at each hive doing the "fanny fanning" thing. Despite the fact that it's social chaos in a package, with bees from various colonies jumbled together, a few bees took it upon themselves to put their abdomens in the air and waft the homing signal pheromone to the others. We can only hope the bees from each package have more or less sorted themselves out. Our apple tree is in mid-bloom at the moment, and today's weather promises fair. So they should be able to fly out and find some grub right away.
A fat drone bee, perhaps Italian, who came to visit me in the early confusion just after installation. The stubby "tail" and huge eyes are the giveaways.