Home, Home At Last (Part Two)

If you missed part one, you can catch up here.

Finally. After 8 days in the bee condo (the cardboard nucleus box that the bees came in), my new "pets" moved into their permanent home.

The "old" pet checking out the new pets.

I picked up the bees on a Sunday. The following Thursday I was on a plane to Florida with a return on Monday. I knew that I wasn't supposed to bother the bees for about a week (most people advocate weekly hive checks) and leaving town was the best way to keep my nose out of their space. It was all I could do (and, honestly, still all I can do) to keep myself from poking at them constantly. They're infinitely fascinating and, in that first week, I just wanted to sit and watch them do their thing. Unfortunately, poking around the hive kind of stresses them out so an out-of-state trip was the best way to give them the peace they needed to settle in quietly.

While I was away, the hive I ordered arrived in one giant box - which I found on my front porch when I got home late Monday afternoon. Needless to say, I put down my suitcase, changed my clothes, and immediately unpacked the box.

In the end, after months of research, discussions with veteran beekeepers, and online searching, I went with a medium-frame Langstroth hive instead of the less-standard top-bar or Warre hives. This gave me a lot of options to purchase both locally and from the web. Most hives are made from pine and painted (on the outside). I found a place in Indiana called Legacy Apiaries that makes the most gorgeous, high-quality hives from western red cedar. They promised quality and they delivered! I adore my hive and I hope the bees will too. The crazy part is, this beautiful, cedar hive was no more expensive than a pine one...

Yes, this beehive is set up in my living room. It's empty.

After pulling out all my equipment, I fired up the smoker, donned the veil and gloves, tucked my pants into my socks (so the bees can't crawl up your leg), and I set about moving the frames from the condo to the house. Here, in photos, is my adventure:

This is the new brood box. Notice it's not made of red cedar.
The one thing that threw a wrench into my plans for the most beautiful hive ever, is that the bees came to me living on "deep frames". That means that the box I transferred them into had to be able to accommodate their frame size. My cedar hive is made up of medium boxes (they're shallower) so I had to go out and buy one deep box that sits at the bottom of the totem pole.

This is what it looks like with one deep (on the bottom) and one medium.
My tools: A smoker, a "hive tool" to separate and lift the frames, and an entrance reducer.
You can barely see it but the smoker is working!

This is what the frames look like inside the cardboard box.

Me, loosening a frame to take it out of the box.
My bees, hard at work.
This is what a frame of honey looks like. Very yellow and very heavy.
Whereas brood comb (where the babies are made) is dark brown.
Nucleus frames in the center, new frames on the outside. In the new hive!
For the most part, my first hive check and move to the new home went well. I was able to identify the work that was being done, the bees were amenable to the process, and they settled in right away. The one hitch was when, while observing one of the frames, I accidentally dropped it on the grass. The bees didn't like that much and there was a lot of high pitched buzzing and flying about. No stings though!! I stepped away, blasted them with a few puffs of smoke, and then moved the frame back into the box. I had to scoop some confused bees up off the grass but it didn't seem like any harm was done.

Three weeks later and the bees seem to be in great shape. They love their home and are busy building new comb and making more bees. Lately, they've been building new comb on the "empty" frames in the lower box and every day I see more bees exploring the upper box.

The bees permanent home, nestled in the mint.
 My goal is to build a strong hive that will live through the winter. Honey production will have to wait until next year. So far anyway, I feel like we're off to a good start. Hopefully, this will be home, sweet home for a long time to come.

- Alex


  1. So will the bigger box/deep box cycle out of the hive at some point so you can just have the gorgeous cedar one?

  2. Missy - that's the plan! I was advised to not bother with it until at least next spring and maybe even next fall. We'll see... I'd like to get the hive to all-cedar at some point. :)

  3. Ah-ha! Cool. It's fun to watch and learn about the bee-keeping process, even though I'll likely never do it myself. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Oooh! Look at them all! I am so impressed!