Thursday, May 23, 2013

Completing my move

This past weekend I took an adventure to make my move complete. Now that I am currently living in Michigan, I needed to go back to Ohio to retrieve my bee hive full of bees. This past spring I had to replace my bees and queen because my hive, and the other ones that a friend of mine had, all died. There was a combination of factors that lead to this. First, we harvested honey too late, and when winter came, they ran out of food. Second, we didn't treat for mites. Finally, a long, warm fall with no resources left nothing for our bees to forage on.

We also wanted new bees, mostly because our bees were mean (but hey, wouldn't you be mean too when all of your hard work of gathering nectar is stolen from you?). Many, many stings over the past summer told me this. In the hives from last summer, all of the bees came from the same hive; we split the hive a couple of times this past year to make 3 hives. My friends (now we have 4 people tending bees) and I, this past spring bought 6 hives, with each hive having one of two different types of queens, either an Italian or a Russian queen. I decided to go with a Russian queen, I named her Anastasia. I'll proved photos later because I neglected to take any this time because I forgot to bring along a camera. What I saw as strange with my queen, it that the abdomen in completely black. I think that this is really kind of cool!

I needed to find a way to bring my hive back with me to Michigan and here is the story aboot my travels with the bee hive. This past Saturday, 18 May, I made the drive from Hamilton, Michigan (where I currently reside and work for Saugatuck Brewing Company), to Oxford, Ohio. It was a 6 hour drive. First thing, once I got to Oxford was to join up with my friends, Kait and Mike, to inspect the hives and cage the queen to travel. We wanted to cage the queen to make her safe, so that she was not injured in the move. Kait built a luxurious “double-wide” cage to hold the queen. The dimensions for the cage was 10 cm X 10 cm and was 3 cm deep. On one face, we stapled wire mesh and on the other face was solid wood.

When inspecting the hive we easily found the queen because we marked her with a blue dot that we applied with a paint pen. Kait carefully picked up the queen by the thorax and guided her through the hole (in which she will use as an exit) that we drilled into the cage. We also gathered two workers to keep her company in cage also. Once this was done, we plugged the hole with a piece of cork. We hung the cage inside of the hive between two frames by some thinly gauge aluminum sheeting that was stapled to the cage. Now that was done we tended the rest of the hives to make sure supplies were adequate. Kait found in one of her hives that that she forgot to insert a frame into, the bees filled the space with burr comb from the cover to the base of the hive.

After we were done, I wouldn't return until after dark to retrieve my hive, so I met up with a few other friends to hang out for a bit and get some rest. I needed to take a nap before making the trek through the night back to Michigan. I had a wonderful home-cooked dinner and conversation with my friends Ty and Amanda, then later we went out to a local dive bar named The Circle Bar. Nothing is better than hanging out with the locals in a bar situated in a college town.

After all was said and done, I said my final good-byes (for a while at least) and went and gathered my hive. Shortly after 11 p.m., I made it to the property that had the hive. I closed off the opening with some wire mesh so that the bees could not make it through. A couple of bees were sacrificed (crushed) and trapped by the duct tape that I used. One bee though, managed to get to me to sting me. Then I gathered some no-see-um (like mosquitoes, only smaller holes) netting and completely enveloped the hive with it then secured it in my Suburu Outback wagon.

Other being long, the 4-hour drive back to my parent's property in Michigan was uneventful. Only one bee escaped into my car, but I removed it at a rest stop in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I also took a 30-minute nap because I found that I was day dreaming a lot and couldn't pay attention. I arrived at approximately 4:30  at my parents in Edwardsburg, Michigan to unload the hive and make it into the house to go back to sleep. Of course, my parents were awake, because they usually make an early start to their day (just like farmers). Later in the morning, after I awoke, I released the queen back into the hive where it is once again safe. Instead of removing the cork and plugging it with a marshmallow, I instead used my hive tool and removed the wire mesh and guided the queen back into the hive.

This coming weekend, I will go back to tend to the hive and probably add another box, because it they are almost ready for it. The good thing about Russian bees is that they are slow at building, but very resistant to mites and other diseases, therefore I didn't have to travel with my hive that was stacked two boxes high.

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