Less Noise, More Green: Installing bees

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Installing bees

Installing a nuc of bees, master gardeners, urban farming
How many bees can you fit in a box? Thousands!

This weekend, a 'nuc' of bees arrived at one of the Master Gardener projects I volunteer at - the Edible Forest Garden. Located in Roger Williams Park in Providence, the Edible Forest Garden is a permaculture project and mimics how plants grow in a forest environment. Last year, the project won a hive and a 'nuc' of bees from Whole Foods Market. The arrival of the bees has been highly anticipated and I was lucky enough to go to Bee School to prepare to be a beekeeper as part of the prize!

We placed the hive in the adjoining Community Garden because it is fenced in and offers some protection for the bees.

installing a nuc of bees, master gardeners, urban farming
Setting up the hive
We oriented the hive to face southeast so it is heated by the morning sun, which is especially important in the winter.

Installing a nuc of bees, master gardeners, urban farming
This is how the bees arrived.
A 'nuc' is a mini established colony where the bees are already making comb and the queen laying eggs. A hive's 'super' holds ten frames for the bees to occupy. The nuc consists of five frames so we removed five from the super to make room.

Installing a nuc of bees, master gardeners, urban farming
All five nuc frames installed in the hive.
After taking the top off the nuc box the Italian bees immediately started flying around us. Slowly and gently we moved the frames from the nuc box to the super placing them in the middle. We checked each frame and the bees had already been busy building comb and brood. Keeping our eyes open for the queen, who is larger than the rest of the colony,  we found her laying an egg in a cell and being attended to by her escort.

Installing a nuc of bees, master gardeners, urban farming
Installing sugar water for the bees until they are established.
Next, a mason jar with small holes in the lid,was turned upside down and placed over a hole in the cover between the full super and an empty super. The jar contained sugar water - food for the bees until they get themselves established. We will check on the supply every few days and replace it as needed.

Installing a nuc of bees, master gardeners, urban farming
The bees, safely moved into their new home.

Finally, the hive top was installed and the bees' new home completed. We left the nuc box by the entrance to the hive so the stragglers could find their way home!

Bees are so important to the health and survival of our food supply and a vital part of our ecosystem. This was a tough winter and many beekeepers I know lost all their colonies. We need more hives to survive. As we start on this new project, I wish the colony and those of us responsible for their care,  a productive, healthy and prosperous year.

See you in the garden ( be kind to the bees!)


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