The bees are here!

3rd grader Jami Wrinn carrying the bees to their new hive

Post by Bill Wrinn, guest blogger

Last Monday evening saw the arrival of over 5,000 honey bees to the new CAWS bee sanctuary at Moraine Farm. Currently located in the far fields behind the main barn, the new hive is in a cozy spot next to some shade trees with plenty of space for takeoffs, landings and all the things bees need to do. They had spent the previous few days making their way from Tennessee via U.S. postal mail and now join four other hives that were recently placed there by our own bee folk, Mary and Dave Mansur.

It was a delicate, yet simple process. The cool weather caused the bees to move slower, which made for an easy transition. Inside the small cluster of bees was a box about five inches long that contained the queen and her two attendant bees. The queen box was removed and the remaining bees brushed off. Once the queen box was placed in the hive and set, next came the job of emptying the remaining bees. To do that, the screened box they arrived in was simply turned upside down and the rest of the bees were shaken out and literally dumped into the hive. The stubborn bees remaining in the package were placed at the doorway so they could walk in at their own pace. Before the hive top was shut, a jar containing a sweet mixture of honey and chamomile tea was placed inside so the bees would have nourishment before exploring and finding their way to the nectar around them.

Over the past school week, the worker bees ate their way through the candy plug in the queen box so that she could emerge and begin her lifelong task of mating and laying eggs inside the main hive. Over the following weeks, the bees will be left alone and their activity observed to ensure the queen’s “acceptance” took place and the colony is establishing itself without any issues. If all goes well, the bees will be able to put up ample stores of honey to make it through the winter. The Mansurs, who have coordinated this entire effort, and their Bee Team, will be looking after our new hives and making sure the farm’s new bee residents are healthy, happy and thriving.

Funding for the hive came from the proceeds from the recent showing of the movie Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?  The movie is about the collapse of honeybee colonies around the world, human beings, and our joint struggle for health and sustenance. The school owns the DVD, so if you missed the showing, please contact Mary Mansur to find out about borrowing it.

Mary Mansur holding worker bees surrounding the box that contains the new queen bee and her attendants. The bees gradually eat through a candy plug which frees the queen into the hive.

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