The Sopranos arrived today! My Italian Honey Bees. All 3lbs, or around 10K humming bees. It's amazing how loud they are when all lumped together.
MDR, Modern Day Redneck was pontificating the other day about how we bloggers post, but have failed to post about our mistakes, and also was wondering if we've grown soft or just given up on prepping. I am about to answer both of his questions;
First, I made a blunder while setting up my honey bees today. I'll explain as I go. Second, I want the honey bees to be an addition to our prepping, providing sweetener to food, minor wound care, and selling the extra honey, beeswax, making candles, lip balm, etc. I need to make considerations for all possibilities.
The post office called around lunch time today to let me know the Sopranos arrived, and they were in a hurry to have me pick them up. I wish I could have a running video camera (you know the one's that are hidden in your sunglasses or a pin on your clothes) so you could have seen the faces I saw today. I heard the "what are you going to do with bees?" "What's in there?" Bees I replied. Now, I mean absolutely no offence, but I live in central Florida with a large Hispanic population, and I just love their language. The response was "dios mio", or "oh my God". It was funny. Away we went, back to the Compound to get them established.
Side note; not sure if you can see it or not in the photo of the bee box, but there is a lone honey bee on the OUTSIDE of the box. He followed/stayed on this box all the way from Georgia. Tenacious!
I've watched a video twice, read the "Beekeeping for Dummies" book at least twice, and I still made a rookie mistake. You have to remove a small piece of wood at the top of the box, to access the sugar water can. I did all this. Then removed the can, but in the process of removing the can, I also lifted up a white tag, which is what holds the queen cage in place. As I removed the can, the queen cage dropped in with the 10K bees! Neither of the videos, or books prepared me for this. My box of bees was different then what they were presenting. Sounds like life, right?!
I didn't panic, I stopped, covered the box back up and the Moose helped me find a pair of tongs. I needed to get the queen in the hive first, so that was my focus. Then I had to remove a small cork from the queen cage. I used a sheet rock screw, like a wine bottle opener, and pulled out the small cork. I should have then been able to attach the cage to one of the top bars.
Second problem, the candy that was supposed to be behind the cork was all eaten away already. The queens entourage already ate through it, and were on their way out, along with the queen. I had to make a quick move to get the other 9,997 bees into the hive. I did it! I've read several options on how to introduce the queen; either attach the cage on the hive bar, or open the cage up and let the queen out right away. I guess we'll see how the latter option fairs as the choice was made for me today. Now, in a couple of days we'll peek back in there and see how things are progressing. Hopefully the queen is still in residence, and they've started to build their combs.
O.K., now for the strange part. I spent the better part of 15 or so minutes surrounded or working with 10K bees, and not once was I attacked, or did a bee try to sting me. But, when I went back to our camper to put away some supplies a wasp/hornet swooped down and stung me in the face. It can only happen to me!... I'm OK, just some local stinging sensation.
As we left, the bees were doing what they should be. Hanging out on the front of the hive sending out pheromones letting the bees know this was the new residence.
Crested Caracara You have to take a look at this site, as this Falcon was at the Compound on our arrival this afternoon. I've never seen one in the 7 years we've lived in Central Florida, and he was as tall as a turkey vulture standing nearby. He was awesome to look at.