Friday, June 3, 2011

Preparing for the Bees

Our family, in the spirit of self-reliance and plain old curiosity, has decided to keep bees. Yes, bees. The ones that buzz, and make honey, and sting. What prompted this decision, particularly since we have young children and the two things don't ostensibly seem to mix? I honestly don't know that any of us can answer that- it simply was suggested by someone, at some point, and became reality almost on auto-pilot. Garrett read an article in Mother Earth News, one of our favorite publications, which detailed how to get started. That prompted him to take an online course several months ago about the basics of beekeeping, and he became involved with our local beekeeping society as an offshoot of that effort. He purchased a hive about a month ago, thinking that he would continue to apprentice with local beekeepers to better learn the trade before he tried his own hand at it, but when a package (of bees) became available at the end of last week, he shifted into gear and began to prep the hive for it's new inhabitants! Since our land doesn't have a southern exposure, which is necessary to keep bees warm enough through the winter months in such a northern locale, Garrett's sister has graciously offered to allow us to keep the bees at her house just a few miles down the road.

This is the new hive, prepped and ready for the apiary. It's painted white to deflect sunlight lest our hardworking ladies overheat in the summer months. (Did you know that all the worker bees in a hive are female?) The yellow cup shown here is an entrance feeder, designed to feed a new colony. Once they begin to make their own honey, we'll be able to take that off. 
 This view is looking into the hive. It's an 8-frame traditional English hive, meaning it's the historical standard for hive construction (more modern methods use 10 frames but we're old fashioned here). When the bees inhabit the hive, they will build honeycomb into the frames and will fill them with brood (baby bees) and eventually honey.
 Because we are getting our bees late this year (typically one would put up a new hive in May, depending on weather), we choose to set up a foundation of honeycomb to help the building along. You can see the wire lengths along each frame in the photo- these give the wax some rigidity and will allow the bees to build more honeycomb on top of the pattern.

We can't wait for our new residents!

1 comment:

  1. how big of a backyard do you have to have for beekeeping? can you link the online beekeeping course? Thank you for your blog is very interesting and encouraging



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