Remember when I told you I was getting honeybees? I’m so happy to report that last week, they finally arrived!
Here is the hive where my bees are living. I haven’t stained it yet (I’ll be doing that soon).
Chris Harp (my beekeeping teacher) helped me get my hive set up. It’s very inspiring to watch him with the bees.
My bees came in what is called a “nuc”.
A “nuc” (pronounced “nuke”) is a nuclear hive: a partially established hive of bees. Mine came as 5 frames, complete with about 18,000 bees and 1 queen. As you can see (though you may not know what you are looking at), the frames contain not just the bees, but eggs, larva, pollen and honey.
In this photo (below), you can see uncapped honey on the left and capped honey (the capping is the white) on the right. Uncapped honey has a high water/moisture content and should not be harvested because it will ferment. Capped honey has been sealed by the bees with wax; capped honey will not spoil and supposedly lasts forever.
In this photo, you can actually see “my” queen bee! The queen’s body has a longer abdomen, so her wings appear shorter and her thorax larger than the same parts on workers’ bodies. Chris was able to find her very quickly- amazing (to me) considering how many bees there were. There is only one queen per hive and she’s the most important member: is currently laying about 1500 eggs/day (!).
And in this photo, you can see worker bees as well as a drone (the drone is bigger than the others with big black eyes).
The one bee box you see is called a “deep hive body” or a “super”. It’s got 10 frames: the five frames from the nuc, plus 5 additional frames. Once it’s mostly filled up, which should be pretty soon, I’ll add another box on top. If and when the second box fills up, a third box can be added, and that’s the one from which we’ll be able to eventually harvest honey. It’s pretty rare to be able to harvest honey the first year because the bees need it to survive.
Now as you know, I am new to all of this, and that’s about all I can tell you right now (and I hope I got all my facts right). In the near future, I’ll be doing lots of reading (I am currently loving The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses) , taking a hive maintenance class, and observing Chris when he checks my hive for a while. I will keep you posted…but I bet you already knew that.