Friday, April 27, 2018

Adventures in Beekeeping. We have bees!

We've been anticipating this day for quite a while, but we finally got our bees! The weather has not been cooperating, and so the date kept getting pushed back. This has been the coldest April we've ever experienced here. With snow showers several times the first 2 weeks.  All the flowers are about 2 weeks behind, so that pushed everything back two weeks. 

Kenan is both excited and nervous. Beekeeping is a pretty large investment, and the strange weather has made it feel like a bit of a gamble. Last year many very experienced beekeepers lost almost all of their hives. For first time bee keepers it's not unusual to lose a hive a two the first year. If the weather isn't cooperating the loss could be even higher. 

To keep the bees passive they've been sprayed with a sugar syrup solution. They are so busy sucking up the sweet treat, they become docile and kind of 'sugar drunk'  and so they don't attack.

When it warmed up we added our bees to the hive. Bee behavior is affected by temperature. They rarely work when the temperature is below 57 F or above 100 F. They cannot fly when the temperature is below 55 F.   So we wanted to wait until it was warmer to add the bees. First thing is to remove the feed can. 

Next you remove the queen cage and make sure she's alive. The queen has to be separated from the hive until they get use to her and accept her scent. There is a 'candy' plug at one end of the queen box. It should only take the worker bees a couple days to eat through the plug and release the queen. 

Once the feeder can has been removed and the queen is set aside you remove a few frames from the center of the hive and literally dump the bees in. Once the bees are in the box you replace the frames and place the queen box on top of them. Then you close up the hive box and hope the bees release and accept her. We checked our queen cages after 2 days and 3 out of the 4 queens had been released (we have 4 hives). So today we'll check the remaining queen to make sure she is out. If not, we'll have to remove the plug and manually release her and hope that she is accepted into the hive. 

We had a few hiccups with the top bar feeders we used in two of the hives, and switched to canning jar feeders.  It looks like all four hives are doing well now though We had a couple days of cool wet weather right after we installed them, but yesterday it finally warmed up and they were flying in and out and very active.

We may or may not get any honey the first year. It's all a learning process at this point, and we are really just hoping our bees survive. We hope to see an increase in the pollination our gardens and fruit trees and eventually we look forward to harvesting honey, pollen and honeycomb. 

We purchased our bee boxes from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm and our bee suits from Humble Bee US.  The bees were ordered through the local bee association.  If you are interested in keeping bees i would recommend taking a bee class and connecting with your local bee association. Although raising bees isn't difficult, there is a lot of information to learn. It's definitely the kind of thing you want to research before jumping into it. We'll be sharing our beekeeping journey on the blog, as well as the many other projects we have going on this year. 


Post a Comment