We got up bright and early to drive to Navasota, TX to pick up our bees. We had bought 3 NUCs of bees, 1 for each hive. A NUC (short for ‘nucleus’) is basically a mini-hive. It has 3 or 4 frames instead of 8-10 in a full hive. It’s like getting a hive starter kit. When you get them home, you take those NUC frames and put them into your hive with an additional 4-6 frames, and then the bees will build out the other frames to build a full hive.
So, we got to the Apiary and the guys went thru a full inspection with us, showing us how strong the frames were, pointing out the queens (they’re marked with a green or red dot on their head so you can find them a bit easier). We weren’t wearing any gear bc the bees were fairly docile and he was using a smoker. As long as you’re calm and move slowly, generally the bees won’t try to hurt you. Generally. Of course when you have long dark hair like I do, you might look like a bear to the bees…. which seemed to be the case as one girl came after me, thumping me in the head (their signal to get away from the hives). I walked quickly but calmly in a straight line (as directed) trying not to swat, but she would NOT leave me alone until finally, she stung me right on the face!! OW! But, in the long run, getting stung right away was a good thing as now I know exactly how much it hurts (not much) and that I’m not allergic. Good thing!
After the inspection (and after scraping the stinger out of my face) we wrapped the NUCs up in mesh bags (just in case any bees got out of their boxes), put them into the car, and we were off! The mesh bags were a tip I read online and THANK GOODNESS we had them because the time we arrived in Hye, at least 50 bees had escaped from the ‘bee proof’ boxes! Can you imagine a 3 hour car ride with that many loose bees in the car! Yikes!
When we got to Hye, we unloaded the NUCs near the hives, suited up, and lit the smoker. We were ready to put the bees into their hives and get this party started! I’d watched a dozen videos on how to transfer NUCs into the hives, so I had a general idea, but watching it and doing it are two different things. The sounds of thousands of bees buzzing within a few inches of your body is disconcerting at best. Your initial reaction is to run. Run far and fast! But instead, you have to move slowly and steadily, not making any sudden moves or loud noises. My heart was going a million miles a minute the whole time we were taking out one frame at a time and putting them into their hives.
After we completed the first hive, we put the feeder on top, filled it with sugar water and closed it up. We’ll be feeding them sugar water or sugar candy (and protein supplements) for a while. There aren’t a lot of flowers right now for them to gather pollen from, and they need stores of honey to get them thru the winter. Our goal is for each hive to have at least 2 boxes to go into the cold months, so we’ll need to keep them fed so they can build out comb and store honey.
We repeated the process with hives 2 and 3, not having any issues along the way. The bees were pretty angry…I would be too after a 3-hour car ride in a box! We decided to leave them alone for the rest of the weekend and let them get used to their new homes.
About an hour later, we just couldn’t stand it anymore and wanted to see what they were doing. We walked over to the hives, staying about 20ft way behind a fence (I guess we thought the bees couldn’t fly over a slatted 4 ft high fence???) to see what they were up to. In about 3 minutes, they sensed us there and a couple guard bees came flying over banging Matt in the head. I tried to swat her off, but he got stung on the arm before I could get her. And luckily, now he knows how much stings hurt (not much) and he also is not allergic. Good thing!
And that was it. It took a while to get my heart rate back to normal after all that excitement, but it was worth it. Now we have bees!! Can’t wait until next weekend when we can do our first inspection and see how much work the bees have done!