The Healthy Honeybee

Learning about Beekeeping

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many thanks

I have to say a big thank you to Ken and Steven for letting me tag along as they inspect their bees, and for all the sage advice I’ve received so far.

Here are Ken and I, looking for a queen in this colony today. It took awhile, but Ken found her. She hadn’t mated yet, so she looked more like a big worker than a queen. I never would have spotted her!

One thing I’m learning as I watch Ken and Steven is that it’s important to keep good records. They use a voice recorder to take notes on the temperature and weather conditions, what they see in each hive, and plans for the next trip out. I may not be so technologically advanced – pen and paper will probably be my recording tool of choice – but I can see the value in keeping track of how the hives are progressing through the season, and anything I might learn along the way.

Here’s one for the files:

Question: How do you get rid of ants that are crawling all over the inner cover of your beehive?

Answer: You get out your propane torch and blast them into the afterlife.

power tools

I spent some time tonight putting together my two brood chambers – it’s getting there! The gaps are for the frames that will come with the nucs. There will be a queen, 3 frames of brood, and lots of worker bees in each nuc package.

some assembly required

It’s time to start putting the hives together – the bees could come anytime after this weekend!

watch and learn

I was able to hitch a ride with an experienced beekeeper today, as he went to check on his bees. Here’s what I learned, in order of importance:

1. If a bee stings you, scrape off the stinger and put a penny on the spot with duct tape. I swear it works. Normally I would have swelling but there’s absolutely none from the sting I got today. Before the penny was put on, I could feel it starting to swell into my thumb and wrist (sting was top of my hand/base of thumb). After the penny went on, the swelling went down and you can’t even see it now.

2. Use old carpet to keep down the grass around your beehives – put the carpet down first then the hives.

3. Put each hive on a large patio stone, it’s easier to shim than 4x4s.

4. Double brood chambers are probably better for the bees. Better winter survival, more space to prevent swarming, more room for bees to store honey for themselves (related to winter survival). So I’ll probably rethink my single brood box plan.

5. Spring is actually the trickiest time for bees – they could be alive in March but dead in April.

So much to think about, but I’m enjoying the learning curve.

future bee yard

Last Wednesday I visited Fertile Ground CSA to check out possible bee hive locations, and the trip was a success! We found a great spot to put the 2 hives that should keep them happy. Many thanks to Angie and Mark for allowing me to borrow some real estate for the bees.

big plans

After researching honeybees for approximately a year, and taking a course from the University of Guelph to see if I could handle working with them, I’ve decided to buy my first two nucs, or sets of bees. They’ll be ready for me sometime after June 7, so in the meantime I’m getting my supplies and bee yard ready. No turning back now….

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