Bee transfer

Bees walk into hive

Bees walk into hive

On package day this year Frank Wilson at The Beekeepers Digest mentioned a technique he’d heard that was less violent than banging the bees into the box. The idea is to put a board between the package and the new hive and let them walk in. I hived the package as usual (banging and all), but then Ted set up a board between the package and the hive. Every last one of the remaining bees walked herself into the hive. The next time I hive a package I’m going to try this first!

Package day 2013

Ted answers top bar questions on Package Day

Ted answers top bar questions on Package Day

Package Day is Christmas for beekeepers. Stedman’s Bee Supply imported 600 packages of Italians from California this year. They came a little late, today! The Carniolans will come a few weeks from now.

This year I am president of the local association. West Sound Beekeepers Association meets at Stedman’s and keeps our apiary there, and we pitch in on package day, helping to hand out the packages. Down in the apiary our teachers showed people how to hive their new packages.

This year our treasurer Frank Wilson and I set up a table in the shop. We took memberships, introduced people to the club and our classes, and answered questions. My favorite was when a woman called the shop, and Barbara Stedman said, “You need Brandy” and handed me the phone. A club member had taken her package home and was calling to find out if she’d done it right. She had!

Down at the apiary Ted pitched in answering questions. He got the top bar questions and was answering with such enthusiasm and detail that I told him he ought to do a hands-on demo. I was thinking I wanted three years under my belt before I did any teaching, but Ted has a *lot* of top bar experience already.

I got him a package to re-hive in the Langstroth. “Happy package day!” I said. He got me a boardman feeder for my new outyard top bar hive and built a follower board for it. “Happy package day!” he said.

Happy package day to all!

Winter 2013 report

Ariadne Apiary: going into winter, we had four top bar hives, one half-sized top bar hive, one Warre, and one foundationless Langstroth. Coming out of winter we have four top bar hives..

Top bar nuc: this hive had a queen we pulled to requeen her hive. It was too small a colony and they ran out of food.

Warre hive: this was a swarm from a Puyallup feral colony we hived in August of 2011. It had dysentery int its first winter but made it through the summer. We fed honey-b-healthy but then did not feed, using it as a control. Didn’t make it through this winter.

Foundationless Langstroth: I didn’t get in and manage that hive well. A combination of small hive and food away from the cluster did them in.

Of the four top bar hives, the most impressive is the one we requeened with a local queen line, Gorst Survivor. We requeened because the hive was unhygenic, it had chalk brood, and the queen was not laying well. The new queen’s progeny cleaned the hive up fast and filled up the hive. They fly earliest and latest. It’s a convincing display of the importance of good and locally adapted genetics.