The Queens Are Free!
Finally the weather decided to cooperate! It was a sunny afternoon, and the bees were happily flying in and out of their new homes. I "installed the packages" last Saturday. In this day and age, installing a package is what we do with software, but here at the apiary, it means something completely different. To install a package means putting a package of bees and a caged queen in an empty hive. The queen is in a little cage with a candy plug. In order to release the queen, the bees eat the candy. That can take a couple of days. In the meantime, the workers get used to Her Majesty's pheromones, and accept her as their new monarch, or not. If the bees do not like the queen, they will kill her. And with 6000 worker bees, the queen has no chance to escape.
I've been wanting to check up on the queens for the last few days, but it has been cold, rainy, and we even had some flurries yesterday. So today was the day, it was in the 50s, and there was a lovely buzz in the bee yard. I suited up, and got the smoker going. I opened the first hive, checked the queen cage, and it was open! The candy plug was gone, and there was nobody in it. So far so good. I didn't see the queen, but I saw eggs! So she's out, and doing her job. I removed the box of the package and the queen cage; I filled the space with frames of comb that still had some honey in them; I filled the feeder with sugar syrup, and closed the hive again.
One by one, I went down all five hives, and it was all good news. I didn't check for eggs in the last one, because it was starting to get too cold, and I didn't want the brood (aka babies) to get cold. I'll check that one first next time.