We finally got around to moving the beehive.
Those who have been following our beekeeping efforts might remember we lost our hive last year because we wrapped it up too tightly with insulating foam board.
The condensation built up and killed our poor girls.
We started over with two nucs last spring. During the summer, the hives were savagely attacked by yellow jackets.
One hive died, but we moved the second hive to a new location and it survived. (See the queen in the middle of the circle of bees, lower center?)
But now winter is upon us. We needed to move the hive into a more sheltered location. We're gun-shy about wrapping the hive with insulation after last winter's disaster, so we figured if we move the hive to a sheltered spot, the bees might make it.
But first Don had a project he wanted to make: bee candy. This is essentially hardened sugar paste the bees can snack on all winter, packed into a tray (called a candyboard) that fits at the top of the hive, with a center hole the bees can climb through to reach it. (Instructions and review can be found here and here.)
The reason he decided on bee candy is because we aren't confident the bees have sufficient honey to see them through the winter. Critical honey-making time was lost while fighting off the yellow jackets last summer, and even though we fed them syrup all summer long (and they had wildflowers as well), we wanted to give them a boost.
Here's the dampened sugar:
Don spread the paste in the tray...
...and rolled it flat.
The paste had to dry for a day. Meanwhile, we moved the bees. We took the precaution of plugging the opening to the wasp guard with a cotton ball, though it was unnecessary since the bees weren't budging from inside the hive.
We strapped the hive to the stand...
...then used the tractor's forks to lift the hive.
We settled the hive in one of the barn bays. Here it's protected from the prevailing wind.
The next day, when the sugar paste was dry, we opened the hive top. Lots of bees on top, a (hopefully) good sign.
We settled the tray of sugar paste over the frames. Right away, some of the bees started crawling through the hole onto the sugar.
And that was that. We replaced the lid over the sugar tray, and left the bees alone to settle in.
We'll be ordering more nucs for spring. If, God willing, this hive makes it through the winter, that will give us three hives for next summer. If the hive doesn't make it, we'll have two fresh nucs.
Live and learn. That's what I'm figuring out with bees: live and learn.