LIVE BEES! Such a designation is not written at the entrance to the apiary and is not intended for beekeepers. These cautionary words can be seen on the packages of bees, which are sent in the mail cars, boats and aircrafts. Do not be surprised! Bees are actually transported in bags, but these bags are not made of paper. These are small, like a suitcase, plywood boxes, in which are securely fastened the frames with bees, the queen, larvae, pupae, honey and bee bread (pollen bee food). “Caution – live bees!” – This title does not mean that the box with the bees is dangerous to approach. The inscription calls for caring attitude to the bees that are sent on a journey. Boxes with bees can not be thrown, can not be put to one side or put “upside down”, can not be placed in direct sunlight, because bees can overheat and die. If the bees are noisy and it’s hot, they need to drink water. It’s enough to put a cloth dampened with water over metal mesh. Bees need to be delivered to the address as soon as possible: bee colony cannot live a long time locked up. Which bees are carried in plywood? In special apiaries, where there are often several thousand hives, the bees are raised for sale. And in May and June the first packages of bees are delivered to the customer. If package of bees come to your post office. Now they need to be quickly delivered to the apiary. If the post office is close, then you can bring them. If it is far away, it is better to use a car. Immediately after the delivery the packages need to be put on pegs, driven into the ground, or stands for hives. Do not rush to move bees into hives. At first they have to make a tentative flight. This flying around is the first meeting with the new area. Bees are good at remembering the location of the hive in the apiary and the direction of a notch. So after the flight it is impossible to move the package to a new location – the bees, coming back, will search their home and may even remain on the pegs and other items. Beehive for these live bees is needed to be put on the same place where the package is, and the notch should be in the same direction – preferably to the east. If the bees were brought to the apiary in the evening, in warm weather packages can immediately be put on the pegs, and after the bees calm down, you can open the tap hole. To protect the package from the rain, cover it with a sheet of iron or hive lid. In the morning the bees gradually fly around, and when it becomes quite warm, you can begin to move them into hives. Bees, brought to the apiary in a daytime, can be moved into the hives on the same day after the flying around. The package is removed from the pegs, and you put a hive, in which the bees will live permanently, on its place. To make it easier to work, it is better to put the package behind the hive. But, before you move the frames from the package to the hive, you need to open the package. And you need beekeeping pliers and a chisel, because the package lid is nailed, and frame are fastened. It is worth, before the start, to make 2-3 small puffs of smoke. You can then open the package and take out the frame. Moving the frames is not difficult. You need to work quietly and slowly.
Remove the frame from the package carefully, try not to push out the bees, and make sure that the bees do not fall on the ground. Frames with brood should be placed in the middle of the nest, and the frames with honey and bee bread – to the edges. Try to find the queen. Then there can be no doubt that it is there. If the uterus is found on the frame, then this frame should be lowered to the hive with particular care. The queen at the bottom of the package should be carefully taken for wings and moved on the frames. Take the queen into the hands without hurry. The slightest push or wrong move – and the ancestor of the bee colony may die. You can simply shake the remaining in the package bees into the hive, turning it over the hive and knock with a hand the plywood sides and bottom. But you can put a package in front of the hive close to the notch, so the bees can move to a new home by themselves. Since the frames of the package (from 2 to 6) occupy only a part of the hive, put a dividing board next to the last frame, which will be a mobile wall of the hive. The sides and top of a bee nest should be well insulated. Keep in mind that if the insulation presses firmly to the dividing board, the latter can move and pull over the frame. Make sure that does not happen. If the weather is warm and there is a small harvest, you can immediately add to each family 1-2 frames of artificial combs. But what if you decided to purchase bees in your place? The best time to do it is the spring. Full bee family, bought in the spring, during the flowering of gardens, is already involved in the pollination of fruit trees, and later may give rise to a new family and produce honey and wax. Bees in the spring are bought and sold with the frames, stocks of honey and brood. At this time, the bees are valued particularly highly. In late May, June and even July you can also purchased swarms. Most expensive swarms are in May. This swarm can develop the big family during the summer, and also collects a lot of honey. Cheapest swarms are in July and August, which appeared after the main harvest or at the end of it. These swarms are needed to be fed during the winter. Value and cost of swarms depend not only on the time of purchase, but also on the weight. A good swarm weighs 2.5-3 kg or more. This swarm can be immediately put on 6-8 frames of artificial honeycombs.
How to choose the bee family in the spring? First of all, beware of weak families, occupying only 3-4 frames after the winter. Only in rare cases these families develop well. Most often, even after a month and a half after the beginning of the season, such a family occupies not more than 5-6 frames, while the family, which spent the winter on 7-8 framework, had already cramped in the 12-frames hive. Check to see if there are feces on the frames and combs, as well as on the walls of the hive. Do not buy sick families. You must find a queen and pay attention to its appearance. The queen should be large, have all the legs and good strong wings. If the edges of the wings are uneven and even torn, then you can almost certainly say that this is the old queen – do not buy this family. If the queen does not have at least one leg, then do not buy it. Pay attention to the amount of brood within: in the beginning of May it should be at least 4-5 brood frames. You can buy bees in the fall or late summer. At this time the cost of the bee colony is the cost of feed stocks. Bees themselves are inexpensive. But buying at this time is associated with certain risks. It is hard for an inexperienced beekeeper to keep a new family during the winter. So it is better to buy bees in the spring, even though they are more expensive.