Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cool morning

Yesterday I collected three boxes of bees from the Twin Cities. When I picked
them up in the cool morning, the bees hung clustered around their queen in the center of each box. By the time I got them home, most of them were clinging to the
net walls of their boxes, flapping their wings and trying to cool down the box. I sprayed them with sugar water and stored them in the basement, the coolest place in our house.

When Dave got home from work at 9 p.m., we set up the hives using new boxes and frames. Last year all our bees disappeared between August and September, possibly due to colony collapse disorder. One of the suggested solutions to that problem is sterilizing your equipment. Dave sterilized the plastic feeders and the flat hive lids, but the frames with all the honeycomb seemed impossible to clean. So we made new frames and boxes and will burn all the old ones.

This morning, before Dave left for work at 7 a.m., we hived the bees. They were once again clinging to the queen in the center of the box. Dave pried the sugar water can
out of the center of the box and lifted out the queen in her cage of sugar. A small cluster of bees clung to her cage. Dave laid it aside and then shook the rest of the bees from the box into the hive. Then he hung the queen’s cage between two frames and set a sugar water feeder over the hive.

In the next few days, the worker bees should eat their way through the sugar cage and release their queen. They will begin making honey from the sugar water and she will begin laying eggs. By the time Dave opens the hive to the outside world, hopefully, the weather will be slightly warmer and the bees will be healthy and working well.

As we set the covers on the hives, the sky was a turbulent gray and to the east, the rising sun tinted the horizon pink and red. Two pair of Canada geese flew over
head, calling back and forth to each other as they settled into the wetlands below the hill where our hives sit. We couldn’t hear the buzzing of the bees, but in just a few short weeks, worker bees will be ranging the woods and fields looking for the first spring flowers. This morning I noticed that the big red buds on the maple outside our bedroom had burst into bloom. Our bees will be harvesting nectar soon.

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