We installed a new queen today (in Hive #1). Here’s the video:
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We squished the old queen in the morning because her progeny were always a little bit surly and a bit too much in our faces for our small backyard. We let the pheromones of the old queen fade off into the sunset until they were a distant memory before we installed the new queen around supper time.
We realize that bees act up from time to time, but we have about 120 square metres in the non-gardening section of our backyard (about 400 square feet) — with four hives. It’s a tiny fenced in backyard. The hives are about ten feet from the steps of our back deck where we typically sit back and have a beer while sparking up the BBQ. We can’t risk having mean bees around when we’re so close to them most of the time. We’re also moving a hive so humans are nowhere near the bees’ flight path, thus reducing the chances of altercations.
The bees in Hive #2 are as sweet as can be, even when they have reason to be more defensive.
Hive #1 might also have had a drone-laying queen. We’re not sure, but judging from the inspection today, it kind of looks that way. Either way, requeening doesn’t hurt and it was something we needed to learn how to do anyway. And now we know, thanks to the one and only experienced local beekeeper who came by this morning to help us out. Just being in his presence is a huge boost for us. I’ll talk more about that in a future post, how we’re basically starving for beekeeping mentors around here.
Spotting the queens in both of our hives — for the first time ever — was thrilling too. Once we spotted the first queen, it was easy spotting the queen in the next hive. (Confession: I wasn’t the one who spotted her first.) We also started up two new hives from nucs. It was a fun day for us, our first really enjoyable day of beekeeping in a while, considering the bit of a dark spell we went through over the past couple months. I hope things continue to get better.
UPDATE (Aug. 28/11): The bees in the requeened hive are docile. So requeening made the bees easier to be around. However, the bees from one of the hives (hard to say which one) still act up once in a while. I’ll walk behind the hives on my way to the shed, and on the way back to house a bee will begin to circle my head and do everything it can to pester me, and it will never give up. The only way to stop these bees that get it in their heads to pester me is swipe them hard with my hat and kill them. This may be the price we have to pay for having four hives in our tiny backyard (approximately 400 square feet). Or maybe we need to find a more docile breed of honey bee. Either way, our small backyard probably isn’t the most ideal place to keep bees. I would recommend to anyone thinking about setting up a hive in their backyard to make sure the bees have a least a 5 metre (15 foot) radius where humans don’t go unless they’re inspecting the hives. Our problem is, it’s impossible for us not to walk within a metre (3 feet) of the hives when were taking something out of the shed. We need a bigger yard.