Friday, May 4, 2012

I’m a Beekeeper

Today my hive of Carniolans arrived. Less than a week ago I didn’t even know what those were. Heck, two days ago I didn’t know what they were. In fact, I think it was the only thing I actually understood when I read the book… These honeybees from the northern part of southeastern Europe are the “gentlest of all the honey bees”. That was the only good news I got.

After reading only a chapter and a half from “The Backyard Beekeeper” I was becoming more and more sure that this was quite possibly a very bad idea. I was more confused than ever. The whole thing sounded so complicated. They were using terms that I had never heard before. What is propolis or a brooder or a super??? Should I somehow just know?

The closer I got to the delivery date, the more nervous I became…

Then it was the day! Bee day…

Thankfully, I had everything I needed to get started:

bees stuff 01 Including a second no-frills book called, “Honey Bees and Beekeeping: A Year in the Life of an Apiary” by Keith Delaplane.  I picked it up and started to read and learned more in 10 minutes than I had in 3 days! I highly recommend this book if you are just getting started! I like the way he explains things and everything is introduced in a nice chronological order for beginners.

The hive arrived. My friends helped me pick a spot (actually, I picked the spot), set up the hive stand, and grabbed the wheelbarrow. Then I got suited up in my new snazzy white Goodwill bee clothes.

bees day one 19Don’t I look ready???

We put the hive in place, making sure the back was higher than the front and the entrance was facing south east.

bees day one 01 The hive was sealed up to prevent any escapees. It worked, for the most part…

bees day one 02Then I got a tour of the hive. I stood by with my spray bottle of sugar water (1:1 ratio of sugar and water).

bees day one 03 Most bee keepers in my club don’t use a smoker. Instead they spray the bees with sugar water while working with them. A light mist makes their wings a bit too sticky to fly and they are distracted by cleaning the yummy sweet syrup off themselves to worry about us. You can also add a drop of lemongrass and one drop of peppermint essential oil to the syrup to help calm them even more.

bees day one 04After a light spray, the top was opened for a peek inside my brooder. This is where the colony stores food for the winter, the queen lays eggs and baby bees are born. As this brood nest is filled, we add a second and the the honey super, where surplus honey (our honey) is stored. Bees always brood down and store honey up.

bees day one 05bees day one 08We also placed a pollen patty on top of the frames to supplement the colony because of the lack of flowers in this cool wet spring. Using a pollen patty also means you need to supplement feeding with sugar syrup.

bees day one 06bees day one 07I also got to look at how they are drawing out the wax on the plastic frames.

bees day one 12

bees day one 09I even got to see honey and larvae! Sorry you can’t see them very well in the pictures, but I wasn’t willing to let my un-veiled, barefoot teenager any closer than he already was… :o)

      bees day one 10 bees day one 11   bees day one 15 bees day one 16 bees day one 14

The holes in the honeycomb that appear to be filled are cap brood. Larvae that are growing into pupae.

bees day one 17

The bees were surprisingly unbothered by all the fiddling with them and only a few seemed to want to buzz around us. But it was time to put them all back in and let them get settled into their new home.

bees day one 18Bees need to be feed and medicated in the spring. So an entrance feeder is put on with a quart jar of 1:1 sugar syrup mixed with medicine for diseases.

Bees also need water. If you don’t have a source nearby, bees will go wherever they can to get it: your pool, hose bib, pet bowl. Or worse yet, they’ll go to your neighbor’s…

A chick waterer with rocks in the bottom, to keep them from drowning or getting inside the waterer, works great in the spring. When the weather gets hotter, a larger source may be needed.

After getting acquainted, and not getting stung, I was feeling much better about the whole thing. Like many things in life, I find they sound worse in print than they really are!

I found myself popping out on the deck every so often just to see what they were doing…

bees day one 20

When the sun came out, so did the bees… I now know why we have the saying, “busy as a bee”. I could hear them buzzing when I opened the screen door. And there were bees EVERYWHERE!

That’s when I realized I had been insane! My perfect place for the bees was in reality an awful place for bees. They were right in our path to the garage, our firewood, the deck, the chickens… Bees need to be out of the way. They don’t take well to being constantly invaded. Happy bees are a good thing! The hive would have to move… :o(

Thank goodness, our friends returned this evening to help with the transfer and give them another  dose of meds. We moved them to a new spot in the back of the yard where they can be left more to themselves.

Since they had already gotten settled into their old place by the chicken coop, we had to put a board over their entrance so they would be confused when they wake up in the morning and will need to relearn where home is.

I like the new place because now I can watch them from the kitchen window or from the deck! :o)

bees day one 21bees day one 22Tonight I will dream about honey… 

No comments: