Episode 3 - Your First Bees

After meeting the Weavers in Episode 1 (Is Beekeeping For You) and going over the hive basics with Danny Weaver in Episode 2 (Meet A Healthy Hive), Skip is ready to get started with his first bees. Binford Weaver has a couple three pound packages and hives ready to go. Binford has worked bees since he was a boy, and Skip is truly learning from a pro. There are several ways to hive a package (and several types of hives), but the method Skip (and you) learn is one of the best for success, especially for a beginner beekeeper.


Announcer: Meet the Weavers. They've owned an apiary since 1888. Meet Skip. He thinks he's ready to start a bee colony.

Skip: Hey, Binford.

Binford: Hey.

Skip: You know I've given it some thought, and I think I'm ready to start my own bee colony. So I'm ready for my starter kit.

Binford: Great. We'd prefer that you order it online.

Skip: Right. Well, you know, I've seen you raise these bees here on the farm. But what am I going to do when I get back home by myself in my backyard?

Binford: Well, let's go out and let me give you a little demonstration.

Skip: Great.

Binford: I will talk you through this, and I'll do the first one while you watch, and then I am going to expect you to do the second one.

Skip: All right, I'll try.

Binford: These bees have nothing to start with. They have no stored honey. So we have to give them some feed while they're getting started and getting their combs drawn out. So we have a mixture here of sugar and water, at least half sugar to water.
Okay. Here's your package, and this little aluminum strip, your queen is in her individual cage, and she's hung from that little strip. So the first thing we have to do is get the queen out. So let's pull that staple out that's holding the queen. Now, you want to have a good hold on that strip of the queen cage so that she doesn't fall down while you're getting the can out.
Okay. I got her loose. So I'm going to put the can back in while we prepare her. Now the queen is in here in her own cage, and this white is what we call the queen candy. It is a mixture of powdered sugar and honey. Now, for her to get out, we have to pull the cart plug out of the end that has the candy. I'm going to show you the method that has the least risk involved.

Skip: I appreciate that.

Binford: So I pull out about five of your frames out of the side away from the feeder. I get the queen, and you see she still has that little aluminum strip. So let's put her down in between two of these frames, do all that little aluminum strip, bend it over. She's got her syrup, got the queen hanging in there. So we're ready for the bees.
The can that has the feed for her also acts as the hole stopper for the can. We'll pull the can out and just dribble a few bees over the top of the queen, put the can package back in the hive, with the lid open, and cover it up. Presto, you've got your package hive.
Now, in about two days you need to go in here and pull that queen cage out. Close it up and don't disturb it again for about a week. Then you go back in. It will probably need a new feeder of syrup, and on these combs they should have started making wax and making comb out of this foundation, and the queen will be starting to lay.
Now there is a trick for seeing and recognizing queen eggs. They're just a little white bar that's down in the bottom of that cell, and for a while you'll not be sure whether you're seeing queen eggs or not. But after a week, when you give it a new feeder of syrup, in the second week, well by then if everything is well, the eggs will be hatching into the larva, and you'll see the little larva or little worms down in the bottom of these cells.
Okay, Skip. Now we're ready for you to give it a whirl.

Skip: All right.

Binford: I have helped you out a little bit by getting the queen cage out of the package.

Skip: Okay.

Binford: And remember, what's the first thing we need to do about feeding right?

Skip: Yes, syrup.

Binford: Okay. There you go.

Skip: All right.

Binford: Good deal. What are you going to do next?

Skip: I'm going to come back in one day and check on it, pull the queen cage out, check it in a week to see if I need to add more feed.

Binford: Which you probably will.

Skip: Probably will. Now I've got to explain it to my daughter.

Binford: Yes, sir.

Skip: Well, that was easy. Thanks Binford. Where does that guy go to?