Jean-Marc LeDorze, Golden Ears Apiaries, Abbotsford/Mission.

Bringing home bees for the first time

Amanda: How do you go about getting a hive of bees? Well, for us it involved making arrangements with a Fraser Valley beekeeper who had agreed to provide nucleus colonies to all of the students in a provincial beekeeping course we took this spring.

On the appointed day of pickup in late May the alarm clock went off at five a.m. and it took no prodding to get us out of bed. We headed out to a Matsqui farm early to pick up the two “nucs” before the sun warmed the boxes and the bees became active. We had with us another newbie beekeeper who was also buying two nucs.

Picking up the bees from beekeeper Jean-Marc Ladore

The cardboard box of bees I was carrying contained four frames of bees, brood, honey and pollen and I was surprised by the weight. I don’t know how many I thought I was buying but there must have been 10,000 bees or more.

As I walked I bounced a bit and the box cracked open along the side. With a flurry some bees came flying out.

I feared I would lose all my precious bees before I even got home, but we managed to get the box back together and put it into the back of the truck. As they settled down, we put a piece of duct tape over the opening and at the seams it all to gether on the drive home.

Back at our apiary we took placed the boxes on top of their new hives and opened up the access flaps. Immediately I found I had a lively bunch compared to Jeff’s, which were so calm they seemed like they died in transport.

Smoking the bees

Smoking the bees for the first time

We came back at 6 p.m. to transfer the frames into the new hives. It was our first beekeeping test. No instructor there to hold our hands! We had to pull the frames of bees out and place each into the wooden brood boxes in the order in which they came.

Rule No. 1: You only need enough smoke from the smoker to settle the bees. Not chase away the beekeepers too! The amount of smoke coming from our bee balcony was more than a five alarm call, followed by stinging eyes and fits of coughing. I didn’t know bees could cough! (just kidding.)

All I wanted to do was get the bees safely from the box into the hive and I prayed I didn’t accidentally knock the queen off and step on her. I probably should have taken my time, however the bees were so active despite the smoke. I managed to get the frames moved without incident, but it took all of my “zen” energy to not look for the queen.

Sunday afternoon I walked to the back lane and looked up at the hives, and sure enough there was plenty of activity. When my neighbours ask if those are my bees in their garden I say I don’t know. Do they have a little AJ brand on their bums?

 

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