So, after waiting a while for my supplier to send me my first two hives of bees, we finally got them here, sorted, and opened them up. They arrived on July 22nd, late in the afternoon.
Then, all hell broke loose. Of all the landlords in this world I could have, I ended up with one that is a bigger wuss than probably anyone I have ever met.
I made a mistake, as many new beekeepers do, I'm sure. I opened my bees in the evening, after they had arrived. Had I thought, I should have left them until the following morning, after they had time to calm down - from a 5-7 hours ride from the Capitol. In my defense, I did tell him not to open his door - his 100% glass door, dual opening, with tons of evening light emitting from it. Since it was evening time and the bees had just been released, they made straight for his door. But, he opened it and ended up stung a couple of times.
He came to our apartment and informed us that we had 2 weeks to move the hives, or to move ourselves. He has no clue about bees and is scared at the site of them. Anyway, we complied and moved the bees to the farm. This was two single box poly hives, I am talking about, here. Probably about 70,000 bees in all. Damned strong hives, honestly. So, two weeks later, and after buying more boxes, frames, etc., for expansion, we packed all the "bee stuff" up and headed to the farm with them.
Upon arrival, we set the two poly hives on stands - I really didn't want to try to transfer agitated bees into other boxes, until they had time to calm down - and I opened them up. They made their orientation flights and began, right away, foraging. (It was just after sun up, at this point.) I sat there and watched them, for what seemed ages. But, within just a few minutes, they were back with their little pollen sacks filled and entering the hives. I was impressed. They hadn't performed this well over the previous two weeks they were at the apartment in the city.
I let them continue to stay in the poly hives this day, and into the morning of the third day. I figured they would be okay to handle at this point. I was right. In fact, they are very docile bees, for the most part. I don't have to use smoke, aside from getting them to move out of the way. And, I don't use gloves. A veil is the only thing I use, to keep the little girls from flying into my mouth, nose, and ears.
Anyway, immediately below, are their original hives. These are the hives used in Vietnam and Cambodia. They are great if you only want them for a specific purpose, say raising queens, etc. But, for my bees, I want to give them ample room for their eggs and stores. Viets and Khmers simply just rob this one box to get what they want to sell, etc. Doesn't make sense to me. But, what in SEA does, right?
I will say this, the poly hives are pretty good. Just flip down the lids you see here and it closes the entrance. Behind the doors are large vents that provide ample airflow for the bees, great to use for moving bees from one location to another.
Their new digs. These hives are set up with two brood chambers, all stores strictly for the bees, an inner cover to set internal feeders on, and a third box to serve to house the feeders and provide adequate ventilation for the hives. Finally, the outer cover is on the top, to help keep rain out of the hive. Later, I will add honey supers, boxes containing frames strictly set aside for honey stores. This will be the honey that we will keep for ourselves.
Here are some photos from the transfer:
This little gal decided she would check me out to see what I was up to. No sting from her. I set her down on the hive and she walked right off, onto a frame.
Chan took this image of a forager bee that has returned to the hive and waiting to enter to unload its pouches filled with pollen. Truly, an amazing image. My favorite, thus far, of all our bee photos.
Tha, our employee, holding a frame of bees being transferred from a poly hive to the new wood ware langstroth hive.
Of all our projects at the farm, this is, by far, my favorite. I could sit and watch these little girls fly in and out of their hives, for hours. In fact, soon, I will be doing just that.
External feeding has become popular here. This is to help curb one hive from robbing another. While you are manually feeding the bees, they look at it as just another nectar source. However, I have four smaller feeders, as well, sitting on top of the inner covers, on each hive. This gives each hive an internal supply of 4 liters, as well as being fed from another external location nearby. Oh, it takes them about 20 minutes to completely empty this feeder, of about 1 liter of sugar syrup. (It is a 1:1 mix. That is, one kilogram of sugar, to one liter of water.)