Aurora and her hive came to us from a South Bay garage where they
had set up housekeeping after swarming sometime in the spring. She was given to
us by Doug Smith, a beekeeper from San Jose.
Since we didn’t need to combine this new colony with Flora
after all, we decided to start another hive. Tina Keller (AKA Tina K., Friend
of Nugget) and her husband, Thomas, came over to Sunset to help us set up this
When Doug cut this hive from the garage, he strapped comb
filled with eggs, larvae, and brood into empty frames and stuffed them into our brood box. He used big rubberbands to hold the comb in place. Bees
don’t like rubberbands, and they immediately began chewing them apart, as you can see in the photo below.
“You don’t want to leave the bees in that box,” Tina told
us. “The bees will glue everything together and make a real mess.” The trick
was to convince Queen Aurora to go into a brood box filled with empty foundation where she could start a new home. We’d keep her out of the original box with a queen excluder.
Working with Tina and Thomas was wonderful. They’ve been
keeping bees for 7 years, and have 6 hives and 3 nuc hives in their urban backyard. They explained what they were doing at every step of the operation, and I soon realized that I still have a lot to learn about bees.
pulling the frames of rubberbanded comb from the box, and about halfway through, there she
“See the circle of bees around her?” Thomas said. “It’s big.
This is very good.”
It means they love their new queen.
And while we watched, Aurora luxuriated in the workers’
attention. She stood still as they licked her, she raised her royal head to be fed,
and then, amazingly, she rolled over on her side and the bees cleaned her
tummy. Wow. Wish I had a photo of that to show you.
Then she began walking across the face of the comb, acting
confused in the bright daylight. Thomas used the hive tool to herd her towards
the waiting empty brood box, and when she saw the darkness below, she
actually scampered into the box.
Long live Aurora!
Photos by Tina Keller