The careful insect ‘midst his works I view,
Now from the flowers exhaust the fragrant dew,
With golden treasures load his little thighs,
And steer his distant journey through the skies.
Driving out to Worcester Honeybee Farm was certainly a trip to remember. It felt sort of surreal that we were on our way to pick up a box of 10,000 buzzing bees to bring back to our urban backyard. We agreed that it would not feel real until our furry little friends were riding in the backseat of our truck. After a quick 45 minute drive, we pulled into the Farm’s lane and noticed the many other cars parked along the side of the road. People from all different walks of life were walking back to their cars holding boxes of bees as if it were the most normal thing in the world! For us newbies, it was pretty exciting! We simply walked up to a table, told them my name, and boom! We were now the proud owners of a box of bees!
I was surprised by how docile the bees were. I guess I expected them to be angrily buzzing around, but in fact it seemed more like they were in some sort of hibernation mode. I also noticed many dead bees in the box and deduced that it was normal when I heard other beekeepers mentioning that they too had dead bees in their boxes. We sprayed them with the sugar-water solution that we had brought with us just to make sure that they were calm and well-fed. We covered them with a burlap sack and began our journey back home.
We got right to work installing the bees into their new hive. The books we are reading for guidance told us not to use smoke on a colony that is not yet established. Instead we sprayed them down again with sugar-water to help keep them docile and to prevent them from flying away as easily. Next, we removed half of the frames in the hive and simply placed the box into it. Some people suggest shaking the bees violently out of the package and into the hive, but we opted for a gentler, more hands off method of letting the bees climb out of the box on their own.
The next step is to liberate the bees by removing the wooden lid with the hive tool.
Next, we removed the sugar-water solution that comes with the package. Trying to pry this can out was the hardest part of the whole process – which is nothing to complain about!
After the sugar-water can is removed, it is time to take the cork out of the queen box. The bulky gloves made this delicate job a little tricky, but I was able to remove the cork using a pin as leverage. Next, we poked a hole through the candy plug that keeps the queen inside – just like our books advised us. She is stored in this box with two worker bees who will hopefully eat through the rest of the candy and release the queen into the hive. When we check on the hive in several days, if she is still in her box, then we will have to assist the bees in releasing her.
After the queen box is positioned between the frames, we removed the lid to allow the rest of the bees to climb out of their package. Then we returned the inner and outer hive covers and hope the bees accept the queen and make this hive their home.
John Gay, Rural Sports (canto I, l. 82)