Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The bees are in their new home!

After some careful planning we have installed the bees in their new home! As it turned out we didn't have sufficient southern exposure at our house (the only spot that we had outside of the backyard was in a very small clearing surrounded by trees). Bees need warm morning light (and a southern exposure) to signal them to wake up and get to work, and they need the warm morning sun to help them survive the winter. Without that sun there was some real concern as to whether or not "our girls" would survive the winter, so we were very thankful that Garrett's sister and her husband offered to have the bees at their house just a couple miles down the road. It will be convenient for Garrett to check on them regularly, but also convenient for us to have the bees in a place where our children won't be too curious! Our kids have been very interested in the bees, and rightly so, but I admit that I breathe a small sigh of relief that we won't have any mishaps with a certain young man trying to find out more on his own by opening a hive himself. Just yet, anyway. 

 This picture shows the hive in the background, and the shipping crate in the foreground. We got our bees online and delivered to our post office! (As a side note, I got a call at about 6:30 in the morning on the day they were delivered from a very nervous postmaster hoping that I would be in soon to pick up our buzzing package.) Garrett needed to transfer the bees from the shipping crate to the hive. He wore his bee veil, but did it without gloves! I was horrified, but he insists that they were calm and relaxed because they didn't have a hive to defend yet. Frankly, I'm just glad that he was the one to do the transfer!
 Garrett adding the sugar water which will help to sustain the bees while they begin construction on the honeycomb in their new hive.
 This box contains the queen, kept separate during shipping, but the bees will dig her out in the hive over the next couple of days. The right side is blocked with a piece of sugar hard candy, which the bees will eat to let their queen out. She releases a pheromone which lets the other bees know where she is so they can release her and get her to work laying eggs.
The frames are put into the hive. Each frame has the start of some honeycomb on it, called "foundation," and from here the bees will add to the honeycomb and will then fill it with brood, and eventually honey. We likely won't get a honey crop this year because our bees will be so busy building up their comb and numbers, but we were fortunate enough to receive some established, or "drawn out," comb from a friend, and maybe our bees will be able to increase production as a result. It's an amazing thing, but frames with comb from another hive (in this case, our friend's hive) can be substituted for our "empty" foundation frames to give our hive a jump start. Our friends' hive will simply make more honeycomb and honey on the new frame. What work ethic!

5 comments:

  1. I had to see about the bees! I really like the idea of keeping bees, but I'm terrified of getting stung. It might be too many episodes of Billy the Exterminator. I would love to try it because I really love honey and use it lot to cook with. Hope you get a good supply!

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  2. Colette, it really isn't as scary as it seems. Garrett took a course from our Community Coop (through a local university) and he has joined our state beekeeping club to build up support. He's had some wonderful mentors and has learned boatloads about the proper way to handle bees. He now doesn't even wear a veil and he's never been stung. You just have to learn the basics. Of course, I'm not quite ready to do it myself either. :)

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  3. I would love to have bees too, but I think my kids would be too interested in the hives right now. How long until you get honey from your hive? How much do you get in a year? I got honey from a friend who has bees and it was sooo good!

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  4. It depends a bit on the hive and the time of year you establish it as to how much honey you can harvest. Because we didn't set up our hives until June we didn't take any this past year. Depending upon the type of hive you have and the number of supers (and the weather, etc) you can expect between 5 to 8 gallons of honey per hive. Yes, raw honey is just about the most wonderful thing ever- and it tastes dramatically different than the imposter stuff you get at the grocery store. Our kids love the hives and tend them right along with my husband, so if you teach them not to approach the hive without an adult then you should be all set.

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