Yesterday I moved over 20,000 bees. I noticed wasps flying into the hive box (the white one) and decided it was time to move the nucs in, rather than risk a wasp/bee war. Besides the smoker going out, everything went smoothly!
A word about smoking: Smoke of any kind seems to turn bees into potheads. They become docile and gorge themselves on honey. These bees don't know me yet so they were a little defensive. When a bee stings, the abdominal muscles and venom sac are ripped out with the stinger and the bee dies. We smoke them to calm them down and prevent such a scenario.
The first five minutes was the worst; all those bees...VERY intimidating. I remembered my dad's cautionary wisdom: "Bees move slowly. Make sure you do, too." Every time the bees started to fly at me I stopped and waited for them to calm down. Once I had to walk away for a minute, and one hardcore guard followed me halfway across the pasture, but otherwise they readily accepted being moved.
The frames were surprisingly heavy, literally dripping with honey! I checked both sides of each, looking for the queen (found Nuc #1 but not Nuc #2), cells full of brood, signs of disease (none!). It's been fun watching them land on the hive, legs fat and white with pollen. All that pollen was packed tightly into cells for them to feed on! I didn't find any brood, but I may not have been looking correctly.
On the bottom of one frame in Nuc #1 (The White Hive) I found a few queen cups, which are cells built for queen eggs. It's normal, and harmless as long as the current queen doesn't lay any eggs in them. If I come back and find them capped it means the workers are rearing a new queen. This may mean my current queen has failed or that the hive is at capacity and preparing to swarm. Then I'll have to decide whether to rear the new queen to start a third colony or to cut the queen caps off the frame.
In 4-5 days I'll check the hives again, add a few frames of new foundation, and possibly add another super for them to move into. They haven't touched the medicated syrup I provided, I assume because they're so excited about all the food sources around their new home! I'm proud of the horses and dogs for leaving the hives alone, and it makes me so happy to see the girls hard at work on the redbud in the front yard or the Bartlett pears in the back.
And the best part of yesterday? No stings!!