That’s what the Santa Cruz Beekeepers Guild call first time beekeepers. I’m THRILLED that I’ll be getting my very own bees soon! Having a local beekeepers guild is proving to be a terrific resource for this beginner. I attended their monthly meeting a couple weeks ago, and it gave me the confidence I needed to take the plunge. During the meeting, they explained in detail how to get a package of bees into a new hive. In addition to monthly meetings, the guild has mentors who help those of us just getting started.
Several mentors recently held “bee show and tells” at their homes for the newbees. I was able to see all three types of bees: drones, workers and the queen. I never knew drones were bigger and couldn’t sting! I also got to see various stages of the hive, including one that was dripping honey….YUM! I learned some beekeeping terminology, like brood, and I saw the different stages of brood. I even got to see some new baby bees hatching! I held frames full of bees. I was shocked the mentors and some newbees didn’t wear gloves when working with the hives! Hopefully, someday I’ll have that confidence too! In the meantime, I’ll be wearing my jacket, hood, and gloves when I’m checking my hives.
Here’s a couple pictures I took during the show and tell.
Originally, I was going to start with one hive, this seemed like plenty to me! A mentor said hives often don’t make it their first year, and if I have two hives, I’ll still be a beekeeper if one doesn’t make it. His logic made sense, so I decided to go for two hives! I will be getting a package of bees, and a nuc aka, a nucleus.
The package comes with 12,000 bees, (you read that right, 12,000!), from different colonies, and one queen. The queen is in her own cage, in the middle of the package. Initially, she needs to be in her own cage, otherwise the colony would KILL her because they don’t know her pheromone yet. They need about a week to accept their new queen, and learn how to be a colony. Once the acclimation period is over it will be my job to get the bees, and queen, into their new hive.
I’m sure many of your are wondering, how I will get them into the hive? I will, LITERALLY, have to shake the bees from the package, into the hive! I’M NOT KIDDING! I expect that will be exciting, especially since I’ve never been stung, and have no idea if I’m allergic! I will have an Epi-Pen on hand, just in case!
Once in the hive, I’ll need to feed them sugar water for their first three weeks while they build comb inside the frames. They eat a quart day, the mentor recommended having 50 to 100 pounds of sugar on hand, since it goes fast.
I also ordered a nuc. This is a very small version of a hive with several stages of frame development. They are already living together as a colony, so the queen is freely roaming among the bees. After I get the nuc, I’ll need to transfer the frames to their permanent hive. This seems like it will be a bit easier than shaking 12,000 bees into a hive!
Before the bees arrival, I need to find a perfect location for the hives. I’ve been paying close attention to how much sun locations in our orchard get. It’s important to keep them at a consistent temperature. My hive stand is a simple structure the husband made using old wood from a deck we recently replaced. Here’s my handy, dandy hive stand!
The bees will be here soon, and I’m excited to share my experience with you! Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss their arrival.
Have advice on beekeeping? Please share your experience. Everyone else, please leave a word of encouragement. I’m getting a bit nervous the closer I get to picking up the bees.
April 27, 2014 at 8:03 pm
How do you feed the bees sugar water?
April 27, 2014 at 8:19 pm
There are two different top feeder option. One has an opening for a mason jar & the bees feed from there. The other has two reservoirs that hold water,with a open area in the middle they use for access.
There is also a feeder that attaches near the entrance of the hive. I’m starting with this as I wait for my top feeder to arrive
May 18, 2015 at 1:45 pm
I am enjoying your posts! I am a newbee this year and just received my nuc hive last week! I only have the one hive. In your experience, which did you prefer – the nuc colony or the box bees? How was your first year of bee keeping?
May 19, 2015 at 3:25 pm
I’m happy you’ve decided to try beekeeping! I don’t really have a preference between a nuc and package bees. I think what’s most important is to do what you’re comfortable with. I’ve had both and didn’t find much difference between the two. I decided on a package for me new colony this year because I wanted to use medium size give boxes. My first year was good but I did lose one colony. My Verbena colony had a big die off in January, which was really sad!! I think they got to cold and also didn’t have enough to food. They ended up leaving the hive and I have hope that they are living somewhere in the wild 🙂 best of luck with your bees! Have fun! Jen
May 18, 2015 at 1:48 pm
I am a newbee this year and love reading your posts! How was your first year in bee keeping? In your experience did you prefer the nuc colony of the box of bees? I just got my nuc colony last week but they don’t seem to be drinking the sugar water as fast as you indicated – they have a 2 gallon bucket of 1:1 sugar water and it is 3/4 full after the first week –
May 21, 2015 at 4:36 pm
I wouldn’t worry to much if they aren’t eating the sugar water as fast as my colonies. It really depends on your location and the current nectar flow. Here in California, we are in the middle of an extreme drought and I’m also in an area that doesn’t have a lot of nectar. This maybe why my colonies ate more quickly.