This is how the bees come, 3 lbs of workers and a queen in a mesh box. They are gathered by southern beekeepers from their hives and sent north around the middle of April.
We start by pouring the bees like sand into empty hives. The kids aren't scared because these bees just want to set up a home, they don't want to sting.
Then we open the queen's private cage and release her into the hive. By now the workers are used to their new queen and will take care of her.
|Here you can see worker bee larvae at several stages of development.|
Until the flowers start blooming we feed the bees sugar water. They use the sugar to make wax for their comb and even start making honey with it. Meanwhile the queen starts laying eggs to raise more workers.
A couple days after we set up the bees disaster struck. Bears are a known enemy of bees and we have a lot of them in the area, but I suspect raccoons were the culprit this time. Amazingly the bees survived despite being exposed on a couple 40 degree nights. I set the hives back up and they seem to be thriving.
To prevent any more meddling from wild animals we've set up this sturdy fence and will be adding electric soon. You can see we've also added a few more hives. These ones were brought in by a beekeeper from New York. Since these are established hives that survived last winter they are much more strong and active. We hope to have lots of CRO honey this fall for our CSA and Farm Market customers.