Last weekend, upon my arrival home from the last weekend of my shaman training, I found that the bees we ordered had not yet arrived, but a quick check of the tracking showed that they would be delivered on Monday. So, we patiently waited for them to arrive.
At this point, this is the fourth package we have installed in the hive. We have gotten progressively calmer and more adept at getting the bees from the package and into the hive. In the beginning, we were nervous and excited. Each year, installing the bees went smoother and smoother. This year was no exception. I am not sure if it is because I have started talking to the bees before doing anything, letting them know what I am doing and why before I even start, but the bees this year were completely docile.
That is not to say, however, that there was no hitch. Every year, we seem to have a little bit of a new twist. This year, it was the queen cage. Each of the previous years, the queen was delivered in a cage with a couple of attendants and the box had a candy plug. This plug allows the other bees to eat through and release the queen after a few days ... they get used to her scent and accept her as queen and, by then, the plug is gone and she can get to work laying new eggs. This one had neither attendants nor a candy plug ... there was a cork in the bottom and nothing else.
So, when we installed the bees, we left the cork in place for a few days to ensure that the bees accepted the queen instead of killing her immediately. On Thursday, we had to release her. The trick with this is that we needed to be able to get the cork out, and keep her in, until we closed the hive. Armed with a spray bottle full of sugar water, we opened the hive, removed the cage, cleared the bees that were hanging out on the cage, doused the queen with sugary water, dropped the bar back in place making sure the queen stayed in until we close everything up, and closed the hive.
I peered through the window today to check the cage. The queen was indeed out. In fact, the bees were clustered together on the opposite end of the hive, unlike the random clumps that I had seen only a day or two before. I quickly opened the hive and removed the cage.
Over the next few weeks, the bees will build all of the comb necessary to store honey and pollen, and lay more eggs. The colony will build until some time in September. Last year, the bees built 17 bars of comb. I will be watching to see that they are healthy and well. On a good note, I observed bees flying back into the hive with their pollen sacks completely full.
The timing could not be better. Currently, the apple trees are in full bloom, the dandelions and common blue violets are flowering, and Spring is getting warmer as it moves toward Summer. Life is springing up all around as the natural world races forward to propagate each respective species ahead of the return of the colder weather that signals the retreat back into Fall and Winter.
I feel very blessed to be allowed to watch, in wonder, this incredible continuous cycle of life. I live and I learn ... and there is so much more to learn. After all, that is what this MooseBoots journey is all about.