The homestead is finally home to bees. It took a little prep to get things ready. First we needed to decide where to place the hives.
1- within sight of the farm watchdog to deter theft
2- where they would get morning sun and afternoon shade
3- protected spot from the tradewinds
4- open flight pathway
5- protected from the livestock
6- away from the neighbor's house
7- not too close to the garden so as not to interfere with the volunteers
8- not too close to the driveway
Once we decided upon the location we needed to make a level spot and place two cinder blocks for each hive to set on. The reason it needs to be really level is that the bottom of the hive houses an oil tray which is used to capture hive beetles and varroa mites. A bit of work with a shovel, a level, and a few handfuls of gravel and a couple small rocks and the flat pad is ready for the cinder blocks.
With the help of David and the beekeeper, we moved three hives onto the farm a couple nights ago. The move went smoothly. We waited until just before sunset so that most of the foraging bees had returned to the hive. The beekeeper plugged the entrance holes, David and I picked up each hive and gently placed them into the truck bed. Then it was a slow, careful drive to the farm where we off loaded each hive to its level platform. The plugs were then removed. Leaving them plugged is not an option in the tropics because the hives would quickly overheat. We placed a few tree branches over the front of the hives in order to let the bees know that something had significantly changed with their hive. That causes them to reorientate, thus remapping their area.
Today the beekeeper came by and we completely opened and cleaned out the biggest hive. Reason? Small hive beetle. Just prior to being moved, hive beetles moved in. So the hive needed to be cleaned or else the bees would leave.
I was truly impressed how gentle these bees are. Above is a picture of the bee smoker. Smoke is used to help calm and control bees. But the keeper needed to use very, very little smoke. Just a few small puffs here and there. And while the keeper used bee jacket, gloves, and vail, I didn't. I was dressed in my normal garden garb -- shirts, t-shirt, baseball cap. Of course I wasn't the one with my hands down inside the boxes. But I was carrying frames back and forth, standing right beside the hive, had bees 360 degrees around me. I didn't get stung once though some returning foragers did ding my head a number of times. If they were trying to sting, they didn't make it through the hat.