YOUR FIRST BEES!
Getting your first colony of bees is the single most exciting event that is likely to happen in your beekeeping career and something you will not forget. If you're lucky, you may be allowed to keep your new hive and bees at your association apiary. If this is the case, then your association mentors will help you to relocate your new colony into your own hive. If this is not the case, then you will be performing this task yourself. But first, where do we get our bees from?
If you've joined an association, then it's highly likely that you will be buying a colony from them that has been raised by them. When you buy a colony from them, you are buying the frames and the bees ... you are not buying any of the boxes the bees are in. The advantage of buying from your association is the colony will be have been checked for disease and will be in good health.
The queen will have been checked to make sure she is performing her duty and may have been marked to make it easier for you to identify her. The bees will also have sufficient stores (pollen and honey) in the frames and will have brood in all stages i.e. there will be fresh eggs, larvae in unsealed cells and brood in sealed cells. If you have bought a full colony, there will be 10 or 11 frames ... around 40,000 bees. Or, if you have bought a nucleus colony from your association, then usually half that amount. Either way, these are the frames (and bees) that will be relocated into your hive.
If you are keeping your new hive at your association apiary, then your hive will be placed in the exact location of the donor hive. You cannot place it anywhere else in the same apiary as the bees will return to the original location. If you are taking your bees home, or if you have purchased a nucleus of bees from a supplier, then it's a different story.
So, you're keeping your bees at home or in a friends garden? Either way, it's your first apiary and you've now got a nucleus box of bees that you either bought from your association or from a supplier. When you bought the bees, you would have identified (or been told) the type of frames the bees are on. This frame type MUST be compatible with your new hive. If it isn't, then you're in trouble. Typically, you will find that nucleus frames are the same as for the National hive. Assuming your frames are compatible, all that remains is to open your hive and transfer the nucleus frames into it. When you transfer the frames into the brood box of your hive, put them in the centre of the brood box as you will need to add new frames with fresh foundation on either side to fill up the brood box. This gives the bees something to do in drawing out the new foundation you have added. Close up the hive and let the bees get on with their tasks.
And that's it ... well .... almost!