Honey for the Bears

…is a book I own but never read. But any who.

We are now the proud parents of two bee colonies. They came as Italians but will soon be Carniolans. As I understand it, Italians are more common for commercial beekeepers, and in order to sell less common breeds they just add in a different queen, and that queen will eventually just breed out the Italians with her own. After doing some reading I decided to spend a little extra on the Carniolans because they were considered more docile. After working with the Italians for a couple weeks now, they’re pretty docile too, so I guess we’ll see if I made the right move. I am concerned about varroa mites and less concerned about foul brood. I’m hoping by allowing the bees to build out their own comb they’ll be less susceptible to foul brood, as I’ve read the framed inserts that guide the bees along lead to their own set of issues.

Getting the bees home was a trip. We drove out to Canandaigua to pick up the bees. So that was a little over an hour one way. We were given the two colonies that we paid for and stuck them in the back of the jeep. Everything was going dandy until one of them tipped over at about Geneva, with another 45 minutes left in the ride. Apparently they found an escape route and we ended up with 50 or so bees loose in the car.

12,000-16,000 bees just along for the ride

We had to make an emergency stop to calm the issue before they all discovered there was an escape route. No big deal, we just draped the extra towel over them and all was well for the rest of the journey.

Setting up the hives across the field

Installing bees is not very glorious. It involves up ending the crate into the hive. You have to get the queen staged so they can free her, and make sure they have sugar syrup available, since they don’t have any honey stores, but otherwise that’s all there is to it. I only got stung once, and only yelped once as a result. I didn’t have any crazy reactions, just a little itchy for a week.

Ciao! Io sono un api piccolo. Get it… Italian…

I ended up putting a couple of jars of sugar water in each hive so they had something to eat inside, but I noticed a lot of people feed externally, so I setup a little feeding station and they’ve really taken to it. So far so good. I bought some pollen substitute but haven’t had a need for it yet. They’ve been trucking pollen in from lots of places. Their little legs have been so full they have had to waddle into the hive.

Cleaning up all of the sugar water. They climb up under the bucket and drink straight from the source too.


One of the two hives with the comings and the goings.

So far so good as far as I can tell. I’m hoping to possibly snag a swarm this summer. If you’re local to the Watkins Glen area, or there abouts, and you see a cluster of bees hanging out, let me know! 607-398-0039

Here is the Google album for those interested. Complete with video of said sting and construction of the hives:

Newbies with New Bees

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