Beehives (with weedblock in front) are cleaned, setup and ready to receive this year's two bee packages when they come.The call comes from the local bee club.
Past President Bill Bundy is back with the bees from Georgia. He's brought everyone's bees in his horse trailer. Dr. Kathy mixes up her 50-50 sugar syrup with a bit of fumigilin (antibiotic to calm the bees down) and some vinegar (to prevent mold growth) and puts it in a spray bottle.
Dr. Kathy drives straight from work in her company car to Bill's farm to get her bees.
Don't drop those packages!
Each package has 3 lbs of bees (about 3,000 workers-all girls) in them. There is also a queen cage with a marked queen and 5-6 attendants in each package. The queen cage has a cork at one end and a sugar plug of candy at the other end. Each package also contains a metal syrup can with small punctures at the bottom for the bees to feed on syrup in transit.
They are all clustered around their individual queens because before Sunday (pickup day is Wednesday) they didn't know each other. They were shaken together in this package. They are confused young bees. They detect their new queen's pheromone (a perfume like odor) and are getting used to this. They want to be close to her. So, the cluster forms around her-she is always in the center. She has come from a different background and is not initially recognized, so the queen cage protects her. The candy plug keeps her in the cage. If she were to walk out too soon, she'd be stung to death! But, as they become more and more familiar with her, and recognize her as their new monarch, she will be accepted. Sadly, the attendants in her cage will not be. The queen cannot feed herself. The attendants feed her. They eat the candy plug at the end of the cage. The idea is that by the time they eat through the candy plug to make a hole for her to walk out of, she will be accepted by her new subjects and not stung.
The two packages won't be installed in their new hives immediately because it is so cold at night-still freezing temperatures, so they are stored in the dark and cool basement on top of the freezer. But, one should not store them too long. They need to be installed about 4-6 days after being shaken together.