Sunday, April 29

Bees are buzzing on Vita Bella Ranch

We now have our first two bee hives! We bought two Nucs from Carl Harrison who is a beekeeper with the NEOBA bee-club in Tulsa. FYI : A Nuc is a small starter hive that many keepers use to begin beekeeping, or to increase the number of hives they own. My sister and I took an eight week bee-keeping course last fall but I must say that until we actually went out and saw the live bees the bookwork was a lot of greek to me. The pick up day was yesterday and so all day Friday we were frantically trying to finish the bee yard, shelter, and hive.

We assembled 20 frames (10 for each hive) and the trickiest part was melting the supporting wire into the wax foundation on which the bees build the comb. Pictured below you can see the wax foundation (sheet) and the frame with the horizontal wires.

Once I had slipped the wax foundation into the frame David applied a short electric shock to the wire which heated it enough to allow it to melt into the wax. The idea is that the wire once hardened into the wax will give it structural support. Since neither the wax nor the wire was very staight it was tricky business to get the get the wire evenly into the wax. The technique we were most happy with in the end was rolling up a few sheets of newspaper into a fat roll and placing it under one wire at a time and only "zapping" that one wire until it was as even as we could get it.
You can see in this picture the vertical wires that came already embedded into the foundation ... So with the horizontal wire we were adding there was really quite a bit of support.

Adding another finished frame to the hives.

Dad and David built the shelter and yard for the bees. You cannot quite tell from the picture but the pond is just a few feet to the left of where I was standing so the bees had easy access to water. The hive entrance faces south east so the morning sun reaches the hives ... and the view from the bees front door is quite spectacular. And yes we did get a roof on it ... I will have to post an updated picture later.

My dad and I loaded our finished (empty) hives into the car and drove to the bee yard in Tulsa. There were about 90 nucs scattered throughout the yard and bees were buzzing all around. Several people were around helping Carl (the bee owner). It was pick-up day for many people besides myself and so others were there with their empty hives. I pulled out my bee costume (a bee-hat, a white long-sleeve shirt, and gloves) and clumsily assembled myself in the bee armour ... I certainly felt like a rookie. I then joined the small "astronaut" looking group huddled around a buzzing hive.

They group was looking for the 'queen bee' amidst the hundreds of bees crawling all over the exposed frame (in the picture above I am on the far left).

It took awhile and with several pairs of eyes looking before someone spotted the queen bee (which is double the size of the normal bee). Once found she was placed in her new hive and was ready to be taken to her new home site. My dad and I unloaded our two hives onto the grass and soon 5 of our empty frames were exchanged with 5 frames filled with honey and bood and covered in masses of bees. We very carefully closed up the hives and transported them to our car. The bees were much more quiet than I had imagined they would be during our drive home ... I actually even slept a little (my dad was driving). Once we got home we placed the hives on two cinder blocks and let the bees begin exploring their new territory.

Some links for those it may interest:

North Eastern Oklahoma Beekeepers Association

Some beekeeping basics

Construction of the Langstroths 10 frame bee-hive

Article on beekeeping with a nice glossary


Kelly B said...

Thanks for the new posts! It looks like Vita Bella has a little bit of everything. I'd call it a "sampler farm."

mystical_rose84 said...

Hey Kelly! Thanks for the comment - I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see another comment! BTW could you please email me your email address? ... I don't think I have it. Mine is

kristin b said...

You look like a natural in that bee suit Michaela!

Rebekah said...

You said that I should comment you, so here I am! By the time you read this, you'll probably be back in OK. Hope your flight went well. It was great to see you. TTYL!

Angela said...

Hi! Did you name any of the male bees garlic?
PS Say hi to Kateri and Tommy and everybody else.

DOR said...

Hi Michaela. This is a great post. Enjoyed the pictures. We'll have to check out the links too.