30,000 Bees and Counting

Three new colonies of bees have taken up residence at Five Feline Farm to replace winter losses. Two packages were picked up at Long Lane Honeybee Farm in rural Fairmount, IL. The third package was shipped by U.S. Mail from Gardner Apiary in Georgia. Each package contains about three pounds of bees, a queen in a separate cage and a can of food. The two packages from Long Lane were shipped in a new style of package called a “bee bus”. The package from Georgia arrived in a standard wood and screen box.

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It is always exciting to pick up new honeybees. During shipment or what is essentially an artificial swarm the bees are quite docile. They are not protecting brood or a hive and seem a bit confused. Mostly they just stay together, clinging around the queen cage and waiting to see what happens.

So two packages rode home in the backseat of the car. A few bees clung on the outside of the cages, but none ventured into the front of the car. Someone suggested it is a great anti-theft deterrent to have 20,000 honeybees inside the car.

Bees were really buzzing around at the distribution site. It is amazing how comfortable we each have become around the bees. While standing in line to pick up the packages, bees flew all around and landed on us, but never stung. We still have a healthy caution and utilize protective clothing while working in the hives. It is all about knowing how to interact with honeybees and respect their natural instincts.

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Once home, the packages were sprayed with a bit of sugar water to reduce flying. Once in the bee yard, the bees were quickly installed into their new homes. We will continue to feed sugar syrup for a few weeks until the bees can establish their new home and build comb on the foundation supplied. After this sugary sweet start, the bees will start supporting themselves with the nectar and pollen available on Five Feline Farm.

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Check out the installation video in the previous post.