Archive for March 7th, 2012

Packages and Nucs

Another night of beekeeping class, another post about what I’m learning.  There are a few ways to start a new beehive, but for us newbies they’re focusing on two: packages and nucs.  Packages are boxes of bees.  Really.  They put about three pounds worth of bees in a box, add in a queen and a can of sugar water, and send them about their merry way.  It’s actually possible to order these through UPS, though my coworker tells me it’s not a good way to make friends with your local driver.

Weird physics: put three pounds of bees in a closed one pound box, have half the bees start flying, how much does the total box weigh?  Four pounds.  It’s one of those have to think about things, but even though the bees are flying, their weight is still part of the entire closed system of the box.

Our bee club puts in orders for bee packages from Georgia, which is still not technically Africanized, even though AHBs have shown up in one county.  One member of the club goes down and helps put packages together, then drives through the night to deliver them to club members.  Alright, about a week and a half ago I got a Google hit “How not to be creeped out by bees.”  That person should not read the following math.  The bee package guy makes two trips a year.  Each time he brings back 900 packages.  Filled with 3 pounds of bees.  At about 3500 bees to the pound.  That’s a total of around NINETEEN MILLION BEES!  So, yeah, if you’re creeped out by bees, don’t think about the fact that you could be on I-95 sometime in the next month behind a truck carrying about 9.5 million of them.  And don’t think about the fact that that truck full of 9.5 million bees might tip over, because that never ever ever happens.  EVER!

Drive happy.

The steps for installing a package include letting the bees hang out in their box for a few days on a lot of newspaper, as they can fling poo up to three feet (yet another bees are better than apes argument shot) spraying them with water and syrup every few hours before finally going through about ten PowerPoint slides full of steps to introduce them into the hive.  You stack supers, you nail down the queen’s apartment, you fill bags with sugar water, you check several times, you rearrange things.

Then we went through the steps for installing a nuc.  This is what we’re going with.  A nuc is a mini colony, already started, and living on five frames in a cardboard box.  To move a nuc into your hive, you take out five of your frames, put in the five bee-ful frames, and then go have a beer because you’re done.  I feel like we’ve made the right decision.

Next week we learn about year two with the hive, which apparently starts in August.  I think that’s the class where they start outlining methods and reasons for regicide.


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