I took the foam block out of the entrance last night after the bees had settled for an hour, as instructed. They were mad! They came boiling out ready to deal with whatever had been vibrating and bouncing them all over the place an hour earlier. I decided to back off and let them calm down. It began to rain lightly so I covered the top of the nuc with a board and called it a night.
The next morning I went to check on them and they were busy at work, flying in and out of the nuc like they had always lived here, packing little orange, yellow and white pollen balls on their little legs. Adorable! A few bees came in completely covered in orange dust, and the beekeeper I bought them from mentioned that those bees have been into the scotch broom. Well I’m glad they like it because we sure have plenty of it on the island!
I drove three hours today to pick up my very first nuc of bees not far outside of Victoria. Boy am I excited!
The gentleman who sold them to me was very knowledgeable and told me he’s been keeping bees since 1974. Apparently he used to work for a large apiary in southern California for over 27 years. I was glad he knew what he was doing, as I didn’t ask many questions before committing to the trek. He was also kind enough to allow me to snap a few photos.
I needn’t have worried, as he had a nice little selection of nucs that were made from his strongest overwintered hives. He was on a good varroa treatment schedule using oxalic acid and thymol which he explained to me. He recommended the oxalic treatment during the winter when there is less brood (since the treatment can’t penetrate the cells) and the thymol treatment around the end of August after the honey harvest. (Thymol needs hot weather to work).
He said that he breeds for honey production, colony strength and gentleness. He admitted he doesn’t breed for hygienic bees per se, but that his colonies were all very strong and so he might as well be. (Hygienic selective bred bees are much better at keeping themselves clean of varroa mites.)
Opening up my nuc
He showed me his active hives and then got out the smoker to show me the nuc. It’s a four frame that is positively chock full of hard working little ladies. It must weigh about 30 pounds. He secured the four frames to one side with two nails to avoid shifting, and the top was nailed on as well. The entrance was sealed with a little block of foam. Once I got them home I was advised to allow them to sit for an hour to let them settle, and then remove the foam. Since it was dark when I arrived home, I will wait to do the transfer into the hive until tomorrow.
I also have a lead on a full, three box complete hive with bees and drawn comb for a good price, and I think I may pick it up so I have two hives to compare. I’ll keep you posted!