I managed to find a place that would sell me nucs, so I bought two. They arrived today and I rushed to the post office after work. I'm in luck: my rural, tiny post office is (wo)manned by a kind soul who put them in the shade, and then just brought them inside because she didn't want them in the sun.
She also stayed late so I could pick them up after work. There is something (a lot, frankly) to be said for rural living.
When I got home, I was greeted by my very happy 90 lb dog, Max.
I carried supplies out to my "bee yard" while tossing a ball for him. At this point, let me say that I'm glad I prepped for this day by using a largish tool bag to hold all my beekeeping supplies: I didn't have to search for anything, or carry stuff out piecemeal.
When everything, including the nucs, was out there, I donned my white shirt and hat and veil and headed out. Max cooperated by occupying himself elsewhere as I did what needed doing.
One nuc was fairly quiet; the other buzzzzzed, and I was worried that those girls were none too happy. So I fired up my smoker and started with the "easy" hive. By the way, I used dried grass, a sumac seed pod, and a few sage leaves in the smoker. The sage was purely for my pleasure. :)
I puffed a little smoke into the vents, then used my cordless screwdriver to open the box. Bees came out quickly, and I decided to give the field bees a few minutes to get some fresh air. Then I started loosening the frames with my hive tool. I used my frame gripper to pull up each frame and check it out, then put it in a hive body. I centered the new frames, and put the nuc frames along the sides.
When they were all done, I used my bee brush to get most of the rest of the bees from the nuc into the hive (there were some dead bees, though not a huge number), and then set the nuc in front of the hive so that the remaining bees could get into their new home in their own sweet time.
I repeated the process with nuc two, a little worried at the loud buzzing coming from it. As it turns out, nuc two simply had a heck of a lot more bees in it than the first (and an empty queen cage), so the noise may have been overcrowding. No doubt they're happy to stretch their wings and have better quarters--at least, I hope so!
And here's the second hive:
Hive two, by the way, will have a funky top until Friday. I had two stands, two hive bodies, but not two covers--I wasn't really planning to have two hives so soon. So I'm using a bottom board as a temporary cover on hive two, until I can pick one up at Dadant Friday morning.
The spot I chose for the hives gets morning sun, but the sun is shaded in afternoon by the trees behind them. They face south-east, and are surrounded by my 2+ acres, and about 30 or more acres behind them that used to be grazing for cattle. The dairy farmer, however, is retired. He mows that field once or twice a summer. Both areas have good clover, plus I have a couple of apple trees, tulip trees, plenty of maple, and so on.
Oh, did I get stung?
Sort of. A bee landed on my jeans. I didn't notice, and squished her with my arm as I was smoking the hive. The stinger barely got through my jeans. Otherwise, though, even in my short sleeve shirt, none of the girls went after me. I was quite pleased.