Hiving a 3# package in the dark is EASY!!!

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by pturley, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    On Tuesday, just after getting back from retrieving a large feral swarm(in the dark!), I got the email that the package I order a week prior was now ready for pick-up. The email couldn't have come in a worse time with prior commitments every night through the end of the week!

    So last night (right after coaching Thursday soccer practice), I drove down (~30 minutes) to pick up my bees and got them home at dusk. On Friday, I knew I wouldn't be home at least until 10pm, so either I need to hive these in the dark, or wait until first thing Saturday morning which REALLY I didn't want to do...

    The swarm on Tuesday needed both deeps I had available, but I had nuc boxes and three drawn frames set aside for swarm traps. Two of these included a bit of honey stores from my hive that failed to over-winter. Once scrambling to find two frames with foundation to fill a nuc and getting everything together it was well after dark. It was a warm night (still 70 degrees out) so I wasn't worried about it being too cool.

    Only being lit by a distant flood lamp on my garage and a flashlight to locate the queen, hiving this package COULDN'T HAVE BEEN EASIER!

    Give the rush, I didn't prepare a spray bottle of syrup or even light my smoker. I simply removed the syrup can and queen, tamped them down, and dumped them in.

    Wednesday the ferals were hived in pre-dawn half-light on a very cool morning (and in a hurry as I still had to get to work!). I had a limited number of flying bees, but moved quickly through a tamp, flip and dump into the empty upper deep.

    The last time I hived packages mid-day was over 20 years ago. I distinctly remember being in the middle of a cloud of pissy, confused bees that then followed me a good 50 feet or more before abandoning the chase. Last night, I only had a small handful of flying bees and a few that crawled onto my jacket. Those that did fly, went toward the reflected light on the white of the hive box (and my jacket) or oriented to my breath (bumping my veil) but these were very few in number.

    Honestly, I'd rather brush off a few crawling bees in the dark than deal with a cloud of potentially aggressive ones (particularly considering that I have neighbors)!

    The only mistakes I made were a few too many crushed bees (in hiving both colonies), and in forgetting to bring out a mini-marshmallow to plug the queen cage (no candy in her cage darn it!). The queen was directly released into the nuc.

    In checking on the nuc this morning, they appear to have accepted the box (time will tell), with only a few guard bees at the door and a handful of orientation flights (still sorting it out!).

    Anyone else hive a package in the dark before???
     
  2. AcmeBees

    AcmeBees New Member

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    This is a heck of coincidence, I was going to start a thread for this. I got an email wednesday at work that a guy brought some extra packages back from Ga. I only have two colonies and my goal was to have at least three my first year. So I had some bee money stinging my pocket so I call the guy, set up the pick up. Leave work 3:30, home 4:30, wife gets home and leave 5:00, 80 miles one one way, get home as the light fades. The bees have been the package several days, and I cannot install them Thursday, plus I wanted them out and fed. So I set up some lights and tripod, and here is my experience.

    http://youtu.be/iZDDfkaEA3U


    The only issue I had is they wanted to beard the back of the hive body away from the light. I should have put the empty medium on first as a funnel. (Thanks for the swarm vid G3)

    By the way this is my first time installing a package. I did take one sting when one crawled up my shirt and I must have pressed on it with my arm. (I'm learning to tuck my shirt in) Other than that they were pussy cats. I did have my jacket and viel handy if it got out of hand.

    Oh well next day they were happy as can bee, I released the queen this morning. LOTS of comb drawn already, I didn't think they could do that that fast. 1/2 gallon syrup down already. It was cool and overcast this morning and I didn't attempt to open the hive without my jacket on, and it's a good thing. They were none to happy with me.
     

  3. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    Great video. This really shows the advantages of this. Particularly when you can see just how few bees were flying around. I only saw one or two fly into view of the camera in front of the hives. I am sure more than these few were flying in the dark, out of view, but the differences between this and other package installs is dramatic (both first hand and in other videos).

    Since bees don't fly at night, couldn't this make them less likely to abscond? The longer time that they are "trapped" by the night in the new hive box, I would think it reasonable that the more likely they are to accept it as "home"...

    More thoughts on absconding packages: The cool weather both you and I are having shortly after install isn't entirely a bad thing in this regard either... If they can't fly, they can't leave... ...and once the queen starts laying, they won't.
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I hope you know you are going to have comb drawn from the inner lid and will have to cut it out. You should never leave open space in a bee hive. They hate frames and will ALWAYS hang free comb when possible.
     
  5. AcmeBees

    AcmeBees New Member

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    I put balled up newspaper in there after the video. The big mistake was rubber banding the queen cage in. It was glued in tight. I had to cut around it to get it out. Not fun especially when the girls were unhappy with me.
     
  6. kebee

    kebee Active Member

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    Good job on installing the bees, it looked like you had many more bees than I got when I install mine yesterday in fact about twice as many.

    kebee
     
  7. AcmeBees

    AcmeBees New Member

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    I think I should have taken some frames out as well, would have been easier to dump them down in. Live and learn.
     
  8. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    The Carnie package NUC was opened for the first time last night, but I only got about half-way through before getting chased out by a fast moving line of thunderstorms.

    The weather had the entire field force at home and didn't make them very happy to see me either (not the best time for a look but I am glad I did).

    Observations:
    One:
    The two undrawn frames I gave them (one rite-cell, one foundationless) remain largely untouched. I had expected they might have at least started to draw these out but they haven't. In thinking about it a bit, new workers haven't even started hatching out yet... ...the hive population is actually receding until these start to emerge (In hindsight, no real surprise I guess).

    Two: They did make a fair bit of burr comb. I spent some time cleaning the frames to remove any burr and cleaning the rails of a good bit of propolis prior to moving them together for better bee space. I moved the rite-cell to be next to the drawn frame and shifted the foundationless to the far outside instead of the other way around.

    Three: I didn't see much in the way of larva or capped worker cells but I didn't get to the middle of the cluster(not quite the full frames of brood I was hoping for). The entire foraging force was home so they blocked any easy views regardless.
    I was more focused on ITEM FOUR below and in cleaning up any burr comb issues at this point anyway. ("One straight frame leads to another").

    Just as I pulled the fourth frame, one side splitting the middle of the cluster, the light levels faded quickly as the next line of storms moved in. I needed to get this frame back into place (quickly and carefully) then button them up fast!

    I didn't even get 20 paces away from the hive before getting drenched with sheets of rain! I'll be opening this hive again as soon as weather permits.

    Item Four (a bit disturbing): There were several drops of bee droppings on the lower rail of the two undrawn frames opposite the cluster. Once I saw this, I slipped a white piece of plywood shelving under the nuc to provide them a large brightly colored landing board (indicator board for any problems!).

    This could just been due to the bees being packaged for a while, then followed by getting held in the nuc by cold weather for an additonal two days. I'll be keeping a VERY close eye on these as a result (and the other two hives nearby as well). Hopefully it is nothing to worry about.

    I'll trade these two frames out the next chance I get in order to prevent the bees from having to clean this up (to prevent possible re-introduction to new hosts if there does happen to be any issues). Given that they are not drawn out at all, I can scrub them down with a bit of 20:1 water:bleach mixture to sanitize, then set them in the sun to dry.



    Lastly, perhaps I need to follow Omie's lead... Start a thread about my bee year to condense it all a bit. Updates scattered across several sub-forums could be difficult to follow. It would be a better reference if it was all in one place.