I got my hive order in the mail a couple days ago.

Toddler for scale.

I can’t believe how much faster this one is going together than Colony #1 (which I’m naming Lady Grey). Same make and model, I guess it just pays to really understand exactly how everything’s supposed to work. Only two days after receipt it’s all glued and nailed except for the frames (individual “combs”) themselves, which are awaiting foundation (which can’t be shipped in freezing weather)*. I now have two identical – well, except for color – beehives.

I’m technically not even halfway done, though. As soon as my Bee-Advisor (a friend whom I constantly nag and natter at with bee questions until I’m sure he wishes he’d never helped me out in the first place) lets me know if my choice of box size is a good one, I’ll order at least 4 more boxes.

See, I’m supposed to have two big (“deep”) boxes on top of each other for the bees to live in, but once full those boxes can weigh 100 lbs! So my plan is to split up the second deep box – the one I will actually have to be able to lift off in order to inspect the bottom-most box – into two short (“shallow”) boxes instead. Then all the boxes I’ll ever have to actually move around will be shallows: easy to lift and interchangeable. That’s the plan anyway – we’ll see what the Bee-Advisor thinks.

So out of all the tea names out there, why Darjeeling, when I haven’t ever actually even tasted darjeeling tea? Honestly, probably just because it sounds a little bit like “darling.” Chai, my actual second-favorite tea, sounded too short and cute (still in the running for next year’s Colony #3, though).  I could have had Earl Grey along with my Lady Grey I suppose, but since bees are a matriarchy a male name seemed out of place. And since I only plan to ever have five colonies maximum, I had better really like the names I choose.

Whatever the name, I hope this colony has a good, strong start unlike poor Lady Grey. Since drone-laying queens are supposed to be few and far between, I hope that this year we can just skip all those problems and go straight to the honey production.

* For those interested in the nitty-gritty of organic-ish beekeeping: This year I’m going to use foundation in the central 8 frames of the 10-frame brood boxes in order to give the bees a head start. Lady Grey was completely foundationless in order to do things the natural way, but it proved a monumental task for the bees to both draw out enough comb for themselves and produce surplus honey for me to harvest (plus they had a bad queen). This year I would like to harvest honey from both hives – that means Colony #2 (Darjeeling) needs a head start. Because the Duragilt foundation is sized for worker cells though, I’m leaving the outer two frames of each box foundationless so that they can build whatever-sized comb there if they like… once they’ve filled up the center of the box with workers.

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