Bee Day Part 3: The Carniolans Come Home

installing carniolan beesAs much fun as we had installing Queen Jade and the Italians at the beginning off the month, we have been anticipating the arrival of our second package of bees. The first taught us a great deal, and though we had no missteps, they were certainly a learning experience. 

Over the weeks we have checked, fed and observed the bees just to build up our confidence. We have it now, and after the carniolans came home, our perseverance was pretty evident. This install was a breeze.

And that was welcome, because this time we had a few curve balls thrown our way. Nothing detrimental or difficult, but enough that we had to do things a little bit differently. We had another opportunity for learning, and with our basics established, installing these ladies was a pleasure.  

Installing Our Carniolan Bees

installing carniolan bees
With Queen Jade, we received a package pretty much the way we had expected. The box had screen around it, with the syrup can and queen cage dangling inside. This time with the queen let the bees gather her scent and be ready to go when emptied into their new hive. 

This time, only the syrup can was inside. At pick up, I was allowed to choose our queen from a stack of cages at the check in desk. I was also given a rubber tube filled with fondant, as the cage wasn't plugged.

The construction of queen cages is pretty universal, with holes drilled on both ends. One side has a cork plug, the other, a fondant plug. In order to release the queen, the hive will nibble away at the fondant slowly in a day or so, letting their new queen and her three or four attendants free. Today, not only was there no fondant plug, there were no attendants in the queen cage. Now, I'm a 'new-bee,' but I had never seen or heard anything like this before. 

The ride from the apiary in Hudson is about an hour away, so on the drive home I had time to think. I could drill another hole in the opposite side of the cage and pack the fondant, but then that might disturb the queen. Or worse, I could slip and drive the drill bit right into her. After a bit of coffee, I hit upon the simple solution. I would remove the cork instead, and replace it with fondant. No power tools required.

This Was a Bigger Bee Package

installing caniolan beesWhen the first package was installed, it was a cold, early spring and the Italians were much calmer, relatively. There were also fewer bees in the box (still a large amount), and perhaps 100 or so had died in transit up to New Hampshire. It was kind of sad seeing their little corpses rolling around in the bottom of the box. 

Today, our carniolans were bursting from the cage, easily twice as many as were in the Italian package, with no apparent transport fatalities.

To remove bees from a new package, we must remove the syrup can lid and shake the box violently to dislodge them. Doing so dumps them into the middle of the hive. 

There's no aggression from them because of this, simply because they have nothing to protect or get angry about. Queen Jade's retinue dropped fairly easily, but these carniolans didn't really want to leave the box. I was able to shake out about 2/3rds of the package before giving up.

Those that hung on inside the box were being stubborn, so I brought the box up against the hive, hoping they would fly in after a cleansing flight. Nope, that wasn't in their plan. Instead, the remaining boxed bees marched right out onto the landing board and into the hive, following their new queen's scent.  

Bees in Our Future

So the plan for now is to let the carniolan hive rest for a while. Just a little bit, as we plan on quickly checking on the queen on Saturday to make sure she is free from her cage. The Italians got another quart of syrup last weekend to help with their comb building, and the carniolan's have a quart as well. Aside from the queen check, there's no need to disturb the new hive.

For Queen Jade and her Italians, change is in the wind. It's been warming up this week, and should the hive start to really fill out (somewhere around 80% of comb, brood and stores) we will be putting another broad box on for them to fill. 

By the late summer nectar flow we can put on our super, but we're not going to push it. We'd rather have a strong hive with stores going into winter than to divert resources for some honey.

With both hives installed, our next step is to try our hand at trapping a local swarm. Local bees are hardier than these southern bees that are shipped up to us, as they are acclimated to our unique environment. We've spoken with our neighbors who own a large parcel of deep maple woods to our south, and we'll be installing a bee trap in a couple of weeks. All we're waiting on is some trap diffusers and lemon grass oil.

There is always something to do around here, and our bees are a welcome addition to the daily routines. If you want to see if having bees is up your alley, let us know and we'll have you out!

Wendie and I love sharing our homesteading experience with you all, and truly enjoy when you join the conversation below with your stories. Have you installed bees before? How did that go for you? Let us know below, and don't forget to subscribe for more homesteading goodness:)


One day I hope to keep bees - they are such fascinating creatures. #GoingGreen
Anonymous said…
Your bee journey is so interesting. My son is fascinated by bees. We can't really keep them but we do have lots of flowers for them at least.
#goinggreen for July