Bee careful! The bees have arrived!
We hope with honey soon to follow!
For the Little A’s (and Mommy), Friday turned into an impromptu on-the-spot field trip. What could be better?
Thursday began our bee adventure, when we picked up three boxes of Caucasian honeybees. They buzzed all the way home in their little boxes, but did not sting or snarl at us. We chose the Caucasian variety because of their reputation for a calm nature–something we value with the Little A’s around. Our education also began at the bee supply store, because they had little boxes of queen bees sitting on the counter. We got the see what the queen bee looks like up close, while they explained how they keep the queen separate in her chamber, so to speak, until the other bees eat the wax out of the entryway, where they can eventually reach her. By the time the other bees reach the queen, they have become accustomed to her scent, and thus become her devotees. 🙂 Interesting to us! These little queen boxes had already been inserted into the bee boxes which we picked up, but we could not see them, of course.
The next morning, the “Bee Man” arrived here. He showed us how to mix half sugar, half water into a spray bottle to give the bees a shower and drink. We soaked them pretty well while they were still in their little boxes. He wanted them to have good energy before the switch into their new homes.
After that came the setting up of the hives. The Bee Man set up the foundation boxes–these are for the bees to make honey for the winter. Then went in the bees, complete with the queen box first, then the rest. We were able to see the different types of bees–the Drones–the lazy bees who will not work, but just eat and mate–who also get pushed out of the hive before the winter comes, the workers–the females who do all of the work besides mating, and the queen, whose only job is to lay eggs. Note that I did not put my own opinions on the roles of each bee-this was pretty much verbatim how the Bee Man described the different bees to me.
The Bee Man loves to share tidbits of information, which we were only too happy to soak in! He shared about the special bee glue which the bees will use to seal up intruders–like other bees which they cannot push out, or, even, as he had seen, a mouse! They pretty much shellac the intruder, and this keeps the odor and germs from the dying creatures out of the rest of the hive.
I found it interesting that the Bee Man can taste various types of honey and name many of the flowers or trees that the bees have visited. We have Sumac, Poplar, clover, among other flowers and fruits on our property. I wonder if blueberry blossoms make good honey. If so, we’ll be in business! 🙂
We’ve been checking in on the bees since they got set up, and have been pleased to see that they are establishing themselves. The Bee Man came out the next day to check on them, then again today. On the second day, the bees had not yet eaten their way in to get to the queen. Today, though, all three hives had empty queen boxes, and one hive had already started to make honey comb! We get to feed them sugar water until they really get on their feet, so to speak, in honey production, but it looks like they are well on their way!
Bees are truly interesting little creatures! We are learning so much! Oh, and we just went ahead and made a complete education of it after we came inside on Friday. I remembered that Grandma had given us a neat coloring book that told how a bee farm and bee hive works. We also pulled out the old, but good National Geographic Kids book, called Honeybees. It was so much more fun to learn after we actually saw the bees in action!
Here’s a brief Little A’s Report, in their own words:
A3–I think it’s interesting that they like to surround the queen. age 7
A1–I think it’s interesting that they will swarm and leave half the bees in the hive, and that they’ll take nectar and pollen and turn it into honey! age 11
A2–Sometimes when they go away, they all go away–one day it will be just a few bees, and the next day, there will be none. (He is referring to the Colony Collapse Disorder, which we have seen. No one seems to know just why they disappear–but many beekeepers suspect Genetically Modified corn or soybeans–no good for us OR bees!!!) age 9