A lot has happened since our last post in April! The garden has bursted into green with all of the rain and pleasant weather we’ve been having. Most of my time at Morven recently has been focused on… the bees! I picked up six honeybee colonies about a week and a half ago and set them up in hives here at Morven, a little up the hill from our garden. I’ve been really worried about them, but they are doing well. Each time I put my bee jacket, veil, and gloves on to work with them, I learn more about their behaviors. I’m also convinced each colony has a different personality. Below, I’ll describe the whole process of picking and setting them up!
First, I drove to Bealeton,VA, about an hour and a half from here, to pick up my bees. I ordered six bee nucleus hives- a nucleus hive (or just called a nuc) is basically like a mini bee colony with a laying queen, lots of worker bees, larvae, and honey. Inside each of those wooden boxes are about 10,000 bees- wow! The nucs already have 10 frames in them, which I later put straight into my hive boxes.
After bringing the bees to Morven that same morning, I set up a nuc box on top of each of the six hives. I had put only one of the hive boxes (called supers) there for the hive because I didn’t want to overwhelm the bees with too much space.
After I set up the nucs, I took off the screen covers on the entrances. The bees were free to explore around! I let them roam and orient themselves for the rest of the day, and then installed the colonies into the actual hives the next morning.
So the next day (Saturday), I woke up early to make sugar syrup to feed the bees. As they were still getting used to their new surroundings, I had been reading that it was really important to make sure that the bees liked the new area and had food to support them for a few days. I made about five gallons of sugar syrup, thinking that I would make more to give them in a few days if need be. (It turned out that they were fine and I didn’t have to make another batch of syrup.) I looked at the bees when I first arrived to make sure they were still alright in their nuc boxes. They were already bringing back lots of pollen, which was a great sign! It looked like they were becoming very well adjusted to Morven.
To move the colonies from the nuc boxes to my hive, I moved each of the ten frames in the nuc to my hive supers. They settled in nicely and I put the feeders on top with some sugar syrup. Moving the first few colonies was pretty nerve-racking for me because I wasn’t used to the bees and had never done anything like this before. By the time I got to Hive #6 though, I was feeling more confident and the whole process went smoothly. I only got stung twice on Saturday, which I though was pretty good.
I’ve checked on the bees a few times since I put them in the hives, and they are doing really well. Some of the colonies (like in Hive #2) are exploding with bees it seems, and some are not quite as thriving but still look healthy (like Hive #4). I hope that they will continue to grow, build their comb, and gather honey and pollen! I’m so excited to keep bees and am learning from them everyday. I am also so thankful for all of the support I’ve received from the Harrison Research award and from the wonderful people at Morven!