So we have to restart 3 hives. I ordered 3 packages of bees with queens that will arrive at the end of April.
DH will pick them up in SLC, about 200 miles away and whisk them home. Any tips on the transport? A few thousand bees loose in the car is the stuff bad horror movies are made of.
Tips on the installation? When we bought the hives originally, they were already established so this is new to us.
I found the cages they were in to be completely invincible. No chance of one bee escaping, let alone a thousand. (Check, though, that you don't have hitchhikers on the outside of the cages.)
And then, when you're installing them, also not that bad. I don't even wear gear. Before they have a home, they have nothing to defend. Nothing to defend, no need to feel defensive. They won't sting you.
The part about loosing the queen but not all the way... take care to get that right. I didn't get her quite lose enough one year. The hive kind of struggled along for a few months, then died.
i picked up 4 packaged bees last year for us and friends in our area. i drove ~2.5 hours 1 way to get them and bring them home.
the place i got them from in the Denver area was telling people to let their backhatch cracked (lots of subarus in CO) and crack from widows so there is airflow through the car.
if you can rig towels of something on the back windows to keep the car cooler, that would help too.
dont worry about a few bees getting out. the packages are sealed pretty good, but the place you pick the bees up from will likely have bees all over.
as i understand it, this is the time when the bees are the least aggressive. depending on how your packages were put together, the bees and queen have likely bee together less than a week when you them. they havent really formed a "hive" yet, so they dont have anything to defend (what i was told/overheard)
i have a few bees loose in the car - one landed on my on the side of my neck about 30 mins in and rode there all the way home.
installation tip* :
pull the cork out of the queen box and put in a marshmellow. hang up queen box in hive and dump bees [gently] in.
the bees will eat the marshmellow releasing the queen - but it gives you time to get the bees in, and the hive closed up before the queen is released. take queen box out next day
as mentioned above, you dont always need gear to install, though i wore it just in case
*this [we think] is partially what caused our bees to start to crosscomb in our top bar hive.
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Next time I recommend getting a local nuc. Try Craig's List. They are up and running much quicker. I started with a nuc and split 2x and all 3 made it thru the (mild this year) Vermont winter. Splitting really helps them get ahead of varroa.
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