Sunday, May 30, 2010

4000-6000 Italians Arrive at Czar of the Woods!

No we're not having a festival! The bees have arrived!!! Between 4000-6000 bees (once the hive is established it will be upwards of 60,000!), of the Italian variety arrived at their new home. Friends of ours; Steve and Cindy from Never Rest Farm in Concord, NY brought a newly established hive over and we transferred all the hanging racks of bees into our hive.

In the photos you will see Steve in a cloud of smoke. This is from the bee smoker that is used to control the bees. As Steve will tell you it is an art form. You don't want to oversmoke them so as to anger them but you want to smoke them just enough to calm them to make them workable. It also allows you to put large groups of bees where you want them to be. This helped as we moved them from one hive to their new hive.

People think that working with bees is scary, and it can be, but they are so focused on working that they will not bother you unless you bother them in a big way (swinging arms/swatting, etc). It is actually quite, and oddly, peaceful to be standing amidst all the buzzing as the bees come and go. Within minutes of us setting up the hive the bees were already off working to pick up pollen and nectar to bring it back to the hive, in the process getting to know their new neighborhood. Steve and Cindy informed me that they have an ~ 3 mile range! You can see many of them rerturning to the hive with brightly colored pollen beads attached to the tiny hairs on their legs. Very cool!

Last night about 11pm I walked up to the hive which is located at the back of our property on a hill between the horse pasture and large open fields behind us, right next to an apple tree (they will love this!). The reason I did this was to give them a water source (in hopes of them not using the neighbor's pool which is about 200 yards away). It was a beautifully star filled quiet night and when I got to the hive i was surprised that it was completely quiet, with all of them tucked quietly inside, safe and sound for the night. After a hard day's work they too were re-charging-i guess I didn't expect this but it made lots of sense. I was picturing lots of bees spooning and cuddling.
this morning before work I took a walk up to check on the bees and they were still sleeping! No activity at all and the sun was already up. Apparently they didn't have to be at work at 8am like I did!

So why are bees important to humans? Because bees are very much responsible for pollinating the worlds fruits and vegetables that we eat and the plants that make our oxygen. Without them humans would not exist. We feel like we are doing some good for the environment.

Thanks again to Steve and Cindy. Steve is a breathing text book of bee knowledge and this would not be possible without them!

The box on the left, aka the hive, is what the 4000-6000 bees arrived in.  Notice the ratchet strap so the box doesn't open on the ride over.  Steve was telling me a story about a guy who took a turn too quickly and his mini van soon became the hive!  YIKES!  The box on the left is what they will soon be moved to and living in here at COTW farm.
Steve and his wife, Cindy fire up the bee-smoker.
No Steve is not on fire; he is getting the smoker prepped.  I did mention that the smoke is used to calm the bees.  I think it may have the same affect on the keeper so that you can work with them!  Not really but it appears that way.
Steve begins by opening the box.
Once opened all these removable racks/frames contain bees, honey, nectar, larvae, comb, brood and a queen!
Steve has begun moving them.  You will see 2 frames already moved to the box on the right.
A shot up close of the frame.  The white area is capped honey, yellow comb below that; the capped areas within that are known as brood (aka new bees yet to emerge).  Not visible in the photo are the larvae and nectar.
Steve rubs an under used frame with beeswax to encourage the bees to start using it.  As all the frames get used up you add another box to the stack making the hive taller, allowing the hive to grow.  Notice his lack of gloves as the bees are inches away.  Again if you are peaceful so too are the bees.
One of the bees checking out the sign that I designed for the hive.  Painted the hive white as well...bees have color preferences and it keeps the hive cool in the summer by reflecting the sun light.
The comings and goings of the hive began immediately.  Trying to figure out where the air traffic control tower is!
Please check out my previous post on bees here

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