May 5, 2012

New Bees

Kerstin and I expanded our backyard apiary to 3 hives this weekend. I purchased 2 nucleus colonies ("nucs") of overwintered Maine bees for Kerstin's birthday back in December and we picked them up from Overland Apiaries in Falmouth this weekend. The weather was perfect for bee installation. It was cool and overcast during the early morning transport, so they didn't run the risk of overheating in the car during the 45 minute ride home. Back at home, we set the nuc boxes on their stand, opened them up so they could orient and get acquainted with their new surroundings and then we finally got some coffee. The nucs had about 2 hours to roam the backyard before we transfered them to their new hives.
Kerstin with the nuc boxes after installation. 
Once we were ready to transfer, the sun came out and warmed them enough that they were more interested in foraging than being angry with us for messing with them. We moved each frame into the new hive body, gave them 5 empty but drawn comb frames and put them on the hive stand positioned under the respective nuc box. The transfers went smoothly and we were able to get a good look at the frames and queens in the process.
Kerstin installing the nucs in their new hives
Queen Mercury and her minions were installed in the grey box. Her hive has a very mellow temperament and are quiet on the comb. The workers in this hive are a little smaller than the Italians in Sally's box and Mercury has some abdominal striping, which suggests some Russian heritage. Erin, the bee keeper who reared these nucs, said that all her bees are naturally mated over several generations, so they don't really belong to any particular race anymore. But she suggested they are probably a mix of Russians, Carniolans and/or Italians.
Queen Mercury
Queen Ponyo was named by Alden who has a great fondness for the namesake movie. It's a very sweet Miyazaki anime loosely based on The Little Mermaid, but without a the usual platitudes and bad-guys-out-to-get-good-guys plot arcs that are the hallmarks of most kids cartoons. If you have a 4-year-old child who's not all that caught up in the details of reality, then this will be that kid's new favorite movie. It is light on plot and pretty trippy, but it's good clean fun and Alden adores it. Hence, Queen Ponyo. She and her workers were placed in the beige hive with the purple stripe. She's darker than the other queens we've had and her workers look pretty Carniolan to my eyes, so she's probably got a fair amount of Carniolan heritage. The hive disposition is a good deal crankier than Mercury's. These guys really don't like you rooting around in their crawl space.
Queen Ponyo (Alden named this one)
Once the frames were inspected and placed in their new hives, we fed the bees some syrup and left them alone for a week to get acclimated to their new digs. Welcome to our apiary, Ponyo and Mercury!
The nucs in their new hives at last

1 comment:

Aaron Hobson said...

Great job guys, thanks for sharing the whole story. Sounds like it was quite an adventure.