Hive Opening for the BEElieve Folks

The Transition Wayland BEElieve group met yesterday in my apiary, aka the “bee yard”, that is, in the close vicinity of my one hive (soon to be three!), for the first hive opening of the year. This is a cross post with the one I posted on the Transition Wayland blog, called “Wayland Voices“.


“See how sweet they are?”

The balmy weather on Wednesday, March 8, allowed me to open my hive for six of the folks in the BEElieve group who are thinking of getting started with bees themselves. A close up sneak peek of a colony is always a good way to get the feel for what you’re looking at. (All photos by Margie Lee)

This was the first time I opened the hive since November last year, and usually the bees are a bit defensive at this point, because they’re also old bees.  In Summer a worker’s lifespan is between 15 and 38 days. Because there is no brood-rearing in Winter (bees don’t hibernate, but they do cluster, which takes all their energy and makes them immobile), so because there is no quick turn-around of generations, the workers that go into Winter with their queen live to be around 140 days. Isn’t that amazing! These bees are stressed, to say the least, due to their age, the difficult time during which they’ve kept alive, because they may be low on honey stores, and because the life of the colony depends on them. Brood rearing has started (if all went well) around the Winter Solstice, and it will be up to these veterans to bring that first new generation into the world.

But this Winter was not of course, your average Winter, and when I opened the box I found a large population (10.000 – 15.000 bees?), all healthy-looking, and they were all quite docile. Also, no sign of deformed wings or mites – a very different scenario from last year!
I was itching to break out some more frames, even to break off the top box to see how many bees were really in there, where the nest is located and especially to check whether the queen is laying well. My queen is now going into her third year and it might be time to replace her. But no… I kept it short and simple because the temperature was just around their comfort level (57 F). Best not to chill these bees! (Or freak out the beginning beekeepers!)
everyone came dressed in white. It was only the beekeeper who didn’t follow the rule book!
I opened the hive, pulled out one frame on the side to show everyone the comb, and gave the bees the sugar fondant with Honey-Bee-Healthy in it to tidy them over in case they need it.
I think everyone got some sense of the bees, and I thank the bees for being so tolerant of us. We meet again this evening to discuss the bees, equipment, costs and suppliers for Getting Started.


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  1. My wife and I are interested in getting started with bees. We live in Hudson near the Sudbury/Marlborough line.
    I also have been showing the movie Queen of the Sun in the area – might we arrange to show that sometime? I do it for free to raise awareness and send the proceeds of any donations to the Bee Sanctuary run by Gunther Hauk.

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