Photo by Alex Wild @alexanderwild.com
Honey bee observation hives installed in Winchester, VA, for 2 years to determine how and when bees collect food across a "friendly" agricultural landscape.
Last Wednesday, our bees finally arrived from Georgia. 3 lb packages are shipped in individual boxes, the 14 of which were nailed together.
The next morning, I loaded up the truck and headed to Winchester, VA, home to the Virginia Tech Alson H. Smith Agricultural Research and Extension Center (or AREC). This AREC serves Virginia’s commercial fruit and value-added, horticultural food crops, items that usually thought to need pollination services.
For this field location, we purchased a shed and outfitted it to house 3 observation hives, seen here (without the bees yet added).
The bees could enter and exit their observation hives through PVC pipe that led outside, where we painted markings to help them orient to their proper home.
Getting the bees from nucs into the observation hives was a little tricky because it was (still) quite chilly and very windy. We ended up doing the work in the back of the truck I was driving. Once the observation hives were in place, we draped them with micro-fleece duvets (only the best for our ladies) to help them stay warm. Of course, the most important thing to do is to feed them with sugar solution. The honey bees drink the syrup and then generate heat by quivering their flight muscles, work that requires calories.
In Winchester, the project is lucky enough to benefit from the expertise and energy of beekeeper and Virginia State Beekeepers Association President Emeritus Rusty Foltz. Rusty will oversee the day-to-day filming of honey bee waggle dances and keep an eye on the observation hives. That's Rusty in the above pictures trimming our wooden frame to fit into the observation hive slots.
Next we'll set up the Blacksburg site and then it is on to Suffolk.