Honey Bees Are On The Way

Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster the wait is over. I just got a call confirming that I can pick up my honeybees in 2 weeks. It will cost $400 for two nuc packages and I’ll have to drive eight hours to get them, but at least I know I’m going to have honey bees for two hives this year. Nuff said.

Okay, so what’s a nuc package and how does it work?

HONEYBEE NUC BOX This is a nuc package. To reduce confusion, let’s call it a nuc box, because that’s what it is: a small box that contains the nucleus of a honey bee colony. A nuc box typically holds 4 deep frames (photo), several thousands bees and a mated queen. Three frames will contain a combination of honey, pollen and eggs, everything a colony needs to stay alive. One frame is usually left empty so the worker bees have something to work on while they’re stuck in the box during shipment to their new hive.

The installation of the honey bees from a nuc box to their new hive is a relatively straightforward procedure. Basically, the 4 frames from the nuc box, along with all the bees and the queen, are placed inside a hive body and left alone.
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Honeybee Paradise

If only I had some honeybees. {Deep sigh.} Still no word from the one beekeeper on the island who might be able to supply me with some bees. I can’t take this much longer. I’ve sent emails and left phone messages. No replies. Being entirely dependent on a single source for my honeybees, ugh — I wish I lived anywhere in Canada but Newfoundland right now. I’m calling again one more time tonight, and if I don’t get a response, I might lose it. In the meantime, check out some of the blossoms on our property that potential honeybees could be gorging themselves on.

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My First Contact with Actual Honeybees

I’ve researched everything I can about honeybees over the past five months. I could probably write a book about beekeeping (or at least a series of detailed blog entries). But until now, it would have all been from a theoretical point of view because I hadn’t had any practical experience handling honeybees. And I’m beginning to think that after all the time and effort I’ve put into this, beekeeping is not going to happen for me this year. It’s been almost two months since I’ve heard from the one beekeeper in Newfoundland who might be able to supply with me some bees. I don’t know what’s happening, and subsequently I’m imagining the worst: they’re going to tell me tough luck, no bees for me this year. My beautiful bee hive may be collecting dust until next summer. I sure hope not.

At any rate, I got a little practice in last night when Aubrey at Paradise Farms let me take a peek inside one of his honeybee hives.
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Still Waiting for the Bees (Painting Hives)

AUGUST 2015: I stopped using linseed oil after the second year because it wore out too fast. The boxes required a new coat at least every two years. That’s way too much work. See How To Paint Hive Boxes for a more practical method of painting hives.

I put a second coat of linseed oil on hive #1 today. It’s almost as exciting as it sounds. I put the first coat on yesterday. I may put a final coat on in a day or two. The first photo shows the hive without linseed oil; the second shows it with the first coat and the third with the second (got it?). UPDATE: The fourth photo shows the 3rd coat. The fifth photo shows the completed hive.

I painted only the outside of the supers (the boxes). We thought about using a white exterior latex paint as a preservative, but we prefer the look of natural wood. We’re also using linseed oil instead of a varnish because it’s a natural product.

And we’re still waiting for the bees. No word yet. We’re hoping to get at least one nuc package by July, though two would be preferable. We won’t buy the next hive until we know we can get a second nuc. If we can get two nucs at the same time, we’ll still have plenty of time to order and build the second hive. Each nuc package would start off in a single brood box (or deep super). We’d have the second hive built by the time the bees were ready to expand into a second brood box.
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