Also, as I've grown to expect with all things beekeeping, the SPOE was different when described by Beekeeping For Dummies or Awesome Steve or any other beekeeper. Why can't we all get on the same page when it comes to these things, bee people?
I must make it so. Eventually.
For now though, let us first recall the Scariest Plan On Earth:
Step 1 - Place entire hive of bees (which is BTW very heavy with honey and pollen) on my wheel barrow and haul it to the front of the yard.
Yep. This isn't necessary. When told by Awesome Steve, you just need to take one frame at a time out of the hive, haul it across the yard, shake it out into the grass and then walk it back to the hive and set it aside.
|This frame was COVERED with bees. When I brushed them off, I found out why - ALL HONEY.|
Beekeeping For Dummies is the one suggesting the wheel barrow. I went with Awesome Steve on this one, and I'm glad I did. For lots of wheel barrow-y, what the hell am I doing with a whole hive of bees over here at the same time reasons.
Step 2 - Remove each frame from both hive bodies and SHAKE ALL THE BEES OFF OF THEM ONTO THE GROUND.
Awesome Steve and Beekeeping for Dummies were in agreement here, though Steve wasn't as GET THEM ALL OUT AND NEVER LET THEM BACK IN like Beekeeping for Dummies was. See, the deal is that you want the laying workers out of the hive FOREVER because they're fucking the hive up, but since they never leave the hive and therefore don't know how to get back TO the hive once they're removed, you really only have to worry about getting those gals out and NEVER COMING BACK, whereas the forager bees, who come off the frames and fly right back to the hive are OK.
This is something I didn't fully realize until I'd done the whole evicting thing (with 20 frames and two hive bodies which TEDIOUS AS FUCK) and then *almost* panicked when I had bees rushing back into the now empty hive bodies.
|ACK! 7 bees! BRUSH LIKE A MADWOMAN! Oh wait. Never mind. Also, honey!|
Beekeeping For Dummies had me thinking that if I didn't get every single last bee out of the hive that I would be superfucked whereas Awesome Steve was all, "Oh, that's totally fine. The foragers come back and that's what we want. Go on with your bad self."
Or something similarly encouraging and sense-making.
Step 3 - Return all frames to the hive bodies and wheel barrow the hive back to the back of the property.
Since there wasn't any wheel barrowing, this was just me walking from the back to the front of the property one hundred times with frames of buzzing bees all crazy like. My neighbors were taking photos and not shrieking because they are awesome and I am lucky as hell.
|Every color of pollen on the planet. This is what we call a head start.|
Step 4 - Install a new package of bees and their queen in the hive.
So, after I went through the whole evicting process and then the freaking out because BEES ARE GOING TO FIGHT TO THE DEATH OUT HERE IF I OPEN THE NEW PACKAGE RIGHT HERE IN FRONT OF THE EVICTED ONES, I actually closed up the hive (taped it shut, yes I did) and said aloud to Bubba and all of creation, that I'd install the new hive the next day.
Then, feeling like that wasn't the exact right thing to do but going for it anyway, I called Awesome Steve to log my check-in call as promised, only to get a stern mandate: "Go install the new package now. It's the perfect time (sun was just setting, it was cooling off, the bees were mellow) and they'll be fine with the other bees around the hive."
Which, I'll be honest, had me nearly shitting myself with OH NO BUT I WAS GOING TO DRINK NOW. I mean, I'd just gotten through almost two hours of the most tedious (as fuck) bee chores I'd ever encountered and all I wanted in the whole wide world was a cocktail and Sitting Down With Bubba For Pizza Night time.
But, I listen to Awesome Steve when he says things, so I got the smoker going once again, hauled the package bees from the garage and opened up the hive to do the thing that, last year around this time, had me hunting around in the garage for matches to right the rapture I'd brought upon our home.
Step 5 - Hope to hell that I don't bring about Rapture #2 in my yard.
Ha ha! No Rapture!
Seriously, after shuttling 20 frames of bees from one end of the yard to the other, installing a package of very mellow Italian bees and their very healthy trapped-in-a-cage queen was about the simplest thing I could have done aside from just sitting down on the stoop with the bottle of Hendrick's and a straw.
Which, incidentally, I would have totally done instead if given the choice.
So, hooray then.
The old colony's laying workers have been evicted. The new colony has been installed SUCCESSFULLY with a queen who DID NOT escape during the Great Marshmallow Switch of 2012 and the old colony's foragers are making their way back slowly but surely.
|We're working it out over here.|
The hive is relocated a scant 3" or so to the right, leaving me enough comfy space to maybe install a 5th raised vegetable bed and WOW do I have vegetables I could be growing (though we'll save that or another post).
So, what's my beef with the situation then?
Well, but of course, these ladies finally did craft a queen between the last hive check a week ago and Friday.
Which I did not realize until AFTER I'd brushed nearly the entire colony out in the yard which was only AFTER I'd purchased another package of bees and a queen.
|*Sigh* Hello, bitch.|
|These are swarm cells. Once the new queen hatched, they'd likely swarm and take off with her. Rude.|
But, I just pried the queen cell off the hive to show around to my very interested (thankfully not *very annoyed*) neighbors and reinstalled the frames.
What am I going to do anyway? Reinstall the bees by plucking them from the lawn individually? Hope that the laying worker knocks that shit off when a new boss lady is born? Give back my package of bees and ask for a refund?
No to all of that. In other words, fuck that.
I kicked all the other bees out, who are - yet still two days later sitting in a mostly live pile in my yard - and installed the new colony who is behaving beautifully and peacefully.
Tomorrow I'll check the hive to make sure that the queen has been released and go about not stroking out for hopefully a few weeks in between bee chores.
One can hope anyway.