Welcome to our first adventure in beekeeping; installing our first hives. This adventure took place on May 3, 2012.
Here are our nucs waiting to be transferred to hives behind our young peach tree. The hives will sit on the cinder blocks.
Bees like lemon balm. Rub fresh lemon balm on new frames to make them more pleasant for the bees.
We are using a standard wax-dipped plastic foundation frame in the other hive. We are using the plastic base to reduce wax moth. The bees will have to draw out comb on this plastic foundation and here you see my hubby lightly spraying the frame with sugar water to encourage the bees to use the frame.
The hive tool is a must for a beekeeper. This is how you separate sticky frames.
GreenBeehives. The deep super is merely a wooden box with no top or bottom that frames can be hung in.
In a new colony, the bees need time to establish in the first deep and need to be fed sugar water until nectar flow is established. The next layer of the hive installation is the feed tray which is a board with a hole in the center where bees can access a bucket feeder.
A medium super (another box with no top or bottom that frames can hang in) is placed on top of the feed tray to enclose the feed bucket.
The feed bucket goes upside down in the medium super over the hole in the feed tray where the bees can access the sugar water feed that will act as a nectar flow until a local nectar flow can be established.
Finally, the telescoping cover goes on top of the hive. It overhangs the rest of the hive and keeps things dry in the rain.
Here's a pic of the deep super with nuc frames and new frames installed:
We were short a feeder bucket, so did not put the medium on the second hive yet. We will add it in the next day or two. Since our bees came in a nuc, they should be fine waiting a short time for supplemental food. When the bees have filled up about eight of the frames in the deep, another deep will be added on top of the first deep to give the bees more room to expand. When the bees are well established, the feeder will be removed and frames for honey production will be placed in the medium super.
Some notes on our experience
Agitating the bees - At one point, a nuc that still contained frames fell over. The bees clearly sounded agitated, but I noticed no aggression. They did not appear to be attempting to sting my husband at all and they certainly did not swarm him. They settled down pretty quickly.
Pacifying the bees - It does not take a lot of smoke to pacify the bees. Just a couple of puffs are usually plenty, with an occasional additional puff or two if the bees get active at the top of the frames. Honestly, I'm not convinced the additional puffs are necessary in most cases.
Note - I am not an affiliate with any of these companies and make no money by providing the below information. These are products we feel are useful and we hope others will find them useful, too.
Ultra Breeze® Ventilated Beekeeping Suit is our suit of choice.
Check out this YouTube video showing how a professional beekeeper handles her bees. I really think we gained a lot of confidence watching this video.
The Honey Super Cell frames website: If you purchase them from the link to Simpson Bee Supply (linked on the HSC site), you will see they warn that the frames are slightly warped. We did not find this to be an issue. You have to call Simpson to order as their online shopping cart is not functional. This is a mom and pop dealer and they are not very internet savvy, but our frames arrived two days after we ordered them and we are happy with them.
There is no website I know of for PermaComb, but here is the contact information for the man who sells it. They can only be purchased during certain times and, if you want them, you need to be added to his mailing list so you will receive notification. A production run only occurs if there is enough interest to run 1,000 frames. I did email Mr. Seets and he answers very quickly. You should know that Dadant bee supply company carries a product with a similar name (PermaCell), but it is my understanding that the Dadant product is plastic foundation and not fully-drawn plastic frames. I tried to email Dadant to clarify this, but their response did not answer my question.
John Seets, National/International Distributor
Larger versions of the images I used here can be found at my Flickr set.