Monday, April 12, 2010

Bees Are in Their Hives, All's Right with the World

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.


beekeeping supplies said...

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Jennifer Montero said...

I love the pink gloves and sherbert-coloured hives! Who says smallholding has to be utilitarian?

I would like to keep bees but I can't justify the cost of the initial equipment as I have a good bartering deal with a local honey producer: eggs for honey. Cost nil. 2nd hand equipment seems harder to come by too.

I also can't seem to get my mind around the whole cycle of honey production, though everyone tells me it's easy. Are there any good books/manuals you could recommend for a real beginner?

Wendy said...

So beautiful. I'm very much looking forward to welcoming our bees in May ... not so long from now, actually.

A funny thing is that I keep seeing new hive set-ups all over the place. I guess a lot more people are getting into beekeeping, which gives me hope. Maybe all of us small-time beekeepers will help to save the bee populuation ;).

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Congratulations! I think getting both the Russians and the Italians was an excellent decision. Perhaps when it's time for new queens to be produced, the drones will cross-breed. The more I read, the more I think that there may be a lack of genetic diversity now that queens are being bred in captivity.

And then there's your color scheme! Very nice.

Our bees are due in a couple of weeks -- I hope we do as well installing them.

Kate said...

Jennifer, the hive boxes are all painted Easter-y colors, it's true. But as for the gloves, I think you should check your monitor! They're very light tan (taupe?). If I had your arrangement for honey, I might not have gone in for our own hives either. Lucky you! Leading up to getting our own bees I read the Honey Bee Handbook and Natural Beekeeping, the latter by Ross Conrad. The first one is a fine general intro. Haven't read too many of these, so it's hard to compare. The second one is excellent if you don't want to keep your hives by drenching them in drugs and chemicals at ever turn. We'll see how the recommendations hold up in practice.

Wendy, thanks. Good luck with your bees when they arrive, and I hope to read about your installation and their progress this year.

Tamar, thanks. It'll be interesting to compare the two races. The two hives show obvious differences in behavior, though it's hard to put them into words. Good luck with your installation as well. Keep us posted!

Robin said...

Oooooooh I look forward to watching and hearing about your bee adventures! How wonderful!

Anonymous said...

How exciting for you! I am considering getting a couple of hives. I am a little apprehensive though. But I think that it is just the newness (for a lack of a better word ;-) of it all.
Enjoy your bees and honey!
Tina Kay

Meg said...

Wow! Looks great, you guys.

Minni Mum said...

So cool - I'm so jealous :-)

Robin said...

I love that first picture!