No, this is not social commentary on the latest British monarch. My second set of bees arrived last night and what a load of pollinators it was. This was my NUC (short for Nucleus, a small colony already established with a laying Queen) and it was a bit of a scramble. For some reason the temperatures had plummeted overnight and it was a cool 60°s all day with a breeze. The plan was to meet at Imagine That Honey after 7:30 but I managed to arrive slightly ahead of schedule. Jodi was off checking hives and though Dean had a hand-written list of who was picking up what, he had barely arrived home from his day and I wasn’t the only early arrival.
The night before, Dean and Jodi had driven two hours each way to Singing Cedars Apiary in Orwell, VT retrieving 28 cardboard boxes of bees. Each box contained five frames of bees and brood, and hopefully one laying queen. Before leaving for work and a day of inspecting hives, Jodi tried to check each box for a queen but the sheer number of packages and bees was overwhelming. The queens are not marked as with the package of bees I received two weeks ago. We will do that when they are settled and we open the hive in a couple of weeks for an inspection.
Jodi arrived and swung into action. The light was fading and we were all headed off to try to install the bees before it was too dark.
The NUCs were heavy with confused ladies who had already made one move in the past 24 hours. I loaded one into the back of the car and watched in the rearview mirror as a few slowly escaped and buzzed frantically against the back window.
It was dark when we arrived at the house. I positioned the headlights, gathered up sugar syrup and the smoker. The new hive was ready; five fresh frames of foundation wax and a top feeder for the syrup. I had to move fast as it was chilling off.
Once the frames were installed,I dumped the cardboard NUC upside down to empty out the remaining bees that hadn’t transferred with the frames. There were a lot of bees. A lot of very irritated, disoriented bees. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have an overturned tractor-trailer load of bees to deal with.
The last step was to install the feeder without crushing anyone and fill it with the sweet, calming juice that will sustain them until the full pollen flow takes over beyond their new home.
As I was cinching the ratchet strap tight, I heard branches breaking and something moving behind the neighbor’s house. “Bears or a dog?” The electric fence went back on and the bees were safe for the night.