New beekeepers, myself included, will find themselves asking “how do I set up hives?” when they first get started. Bee hives might look complex, and they are, but setting them up isn’t rocket science. It requires heavy lifting and a chunk of time, but with a good mentor you’ll be ready to go!
How do I set up hives? It’s quite the process.
When Dale Large arrived, he brought the hives, two boxes of bees, and his friend Pat who has been raising bees for the last twenty years. We chatted about problems that beekeepers have had in the more recent past with beetles, and how to be proactive to avoid them with beetle traps.
Dale set up the hives, placing them on cinder blocks so that they were off the ground and will never be sitting in water. Once he set up the base and the first super, he opened the first box of bees. It was a little chilly outside on this day, so the bees were fairly calm.
It was a good time to set up the hives. As the temperature increases, the bees’ enthusiasm and possible anger increase. When we set up, most of the bees were very agreeable and went right where we wanted. Once they were in the hives, they got right down to bizz-ness!
Adding the Family
Next, Dale installed the queen, who was in her own box. He poked a hole through a piece of sugar that was holding the queen in her box, and he told me that she would eventually crawl through the hole and start laying eggs. The drones are there to service her. Drones only act as a mate for the queen: worker bees do everything else in the hive. In fact, drones will typically only live to around three months of age. Worker bees will actually chase drones out of the hive come the fall. This sounds extreme, but they only end up eating and taking up space otherwise!
Dale then placed what looked like a modified oven rack, a queen excluder, on top. This will prevent a queen from leaving the hive. Next he covered the entrance of the hive at the base with a small piece of wood to keep pests out of the hives. For food, he installed a frame filled with honey to get the bees started. For the next few months, the bees will feed on this as they grow. I am feeding them now with this honey, but in the future I may have to feed them with sugar water if they aren’t productive.
Next I will blog about what to expect from the bees after you set them up. As a “newbee” I had lots of questions.