Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The New Queen

I contacted Brushy Mountain Bee Farm on Monday about the dead queen I received with one of my packages. Joan called me later that afternoon and told me they had sent a replacement queen via express mail and to contact her when I received the package to ensure they were alive and well ("they" being the queen and her attendants of course.)

At about 10:30 this morning I get a call from the postmaster at the main post office in Binghamton asking me if I was expecting a delivery of live bees. "Yes, I am!" I told him. "Well, they're here. Do you want us to deliver them or do you want to pick them up?" "I'll pick them up and save you the trouble."

I didn't know what to expect when I got to the post office. How do they ship a replacement queen? I was surprised when I got to the window and they presented me with a standard express mail envelope with some holes punched in it. "I hope they're alive." I remarked to the woman at the window. "I won't be opening them to check!" she replied with a smile. I opened the envelope as soon as I got outside. Uh oh. All the bees seemed crammed at the candy end of the queen cage. And nothing was moving. "Not again!" I thought.

But wait a minute ... a little warmth, a little sunshine and the bees started moving. All occupants of the candy plugged cage seemed alive and well. I put the cage in my shirt pocket and headed for home.

I had been keeping the package of bees in my basement while awaiting the replacement queen. Twice a day I'd spray them down with a slightly above room temperature simple syrup mixture to keep them calm and well fed. They seemed in good shape when I retrieved them from the basement and headed up the hill toward their new home. I asked my son, Matt, to grab the camera and photograph my first solo installation of a colony of bees.

It was a beautiful day with a temperature in the upper 50's -- a far cry from the near freezing conditions on Saturday. The installation was a breeze. Matt did a great job of capturing the action which I captioned and posted in an online album.

A perfect day. Two healthy and happy bee colonies. The dandelions are in bloom. Life is good!

(I just discovered that you can embed a slideshow right in the blog. Below are Matt's photos)

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