Amanda hives a package of Arataki bees from New Zealand in one of our yards. Jeff Lee photo.

Our package bees arrive, with a promise of a heavy work season

The evidence of this weekend’s frenetic beekeeping activity is all over the place.
In our kitchen, the floor is sticky from the droplets of sugar water that dripped as we made up major amounts in preparation for imported New Zealand bees that arrived Sunday.
Out back of the garage is a pyramid of stacked cardboard tubes left over from the packages we installed in the drizzly rain. The garbage can is filled with the sliced garbage bag wrappings from the frames of honey we’d had sterilized at Iotron and then installed in the boxes waiting for the packages.
And out in our apiary tonight, there are a lot of bees and nearly four dozen queens scratching their heads and saying “hey, where are we?”
The hiving of the Arataki bee packages came at the end of an extraordinarily busy weekend. I’d made a flying trip to Kamloops for the B.C. Honey Producers‘ semi-annual meeting. I was there for two reasons; the business day on Friday is where a lot of the mechanics of the BCHPA is discussed, and the education day on Saturday is a good place to pick up refresher points for the coming season. (Here’s the agenda of the education day.)
In fact, Stan Reist’s session on hiving packages came in handy since the next day we found ourselves up to our elbows in excited New Zealand bees.
And Diane Dunaway’s session on swarms and how to take care of them helped remind me I have to go through the swarm kit we keep in the truck and make sure it has a few extra things this year.
I also appreciated the rudimentary and common sense lessons Wayne Neidig, the BCHPA president, offered to both newbies and experienced beekeepers with his “first look in the hive” seminar.
The activity this weekend is a precursor to what we know will be an extremely busy season. We’ve lots of work getting ready for pollination season, and we have two new yards we have to prep, including a promising honey yard in Abbotsford.
As we were leaving the yard where we’ve got the new package bees safely in their hives, Amanda noted the first buds starting to pop on a plum tree. She thinks it’s going to be an early spring. I can only hope that’s not the case.

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