Bee Diary: April 23rd, 2011 Hiving

Spring                                                 Waning Bee Hiving Moon

The bees are in the house.  Mark and I drove out to Nature’s Nectar near Stillwater and picked up three three pound packages of Minnesota Hygienic bees.  On the way back the beespackagebees hummed in the back, a pleasant noise.

Tom and Roxann came up to watch the hiving, as did Pam from across the street.  It has a certain ritual feel, a rite of spring.

The wooden packages with wire sides have a feeder can of syrup suspended from the top, along with a queen cage and newly mated queen.  After setting up the hive boxes with 9 or ten frames each, the hiving process moves stepwise through spraying the bees with sugar water to make them less able to fly, then pulling the syrup can out, followed by the queen cage which goes in your pocket to keep her warm.  Four frames come out of the hive box, in the center, and the bee package rapped sharply against the remaining frames to jar the bees loose.  Once they have fallen, a buzzing moving mass to the bottom, the beekeeper spreads them out along the bottom and releases the queen.

I chose the indirect method of queen release this year, putting a small marshmallow in the end of the queen cage so the queen and the workers can chew their way through it in 3 or 4 hours.  The cage gets wedged between two frames, the hive cover and the telescoping cover go back on and the bee year has begun.

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