Friday, March 12, 2010

Beekeeping Basics

Yesterday was another sunny day with temperatures in the 60's.  The rain held off (I think today may be the day, though).

I took advantage of the wonderful weather, donned my bee suit, and headed out to feed the bees.

Earlier this week I mixed up a batch of sugar syrup in a 1:1 concentration of sugar to water.  Once cooled, I poured it into old OJ bottles.

Each hive is equipped with a top feeder.

These feeders are great in that they hold a lot of syrup and the bees can access the food without ever leaving the hive.  They sit above the hive body and supers but below the top board and roof.  Each side of the feeder has a little floating platform with slits through which the bees sip the syrup.  These feeders will keep the bees satisfied until such time as we have our first nectar flow....later in spring.

I also removed the winter jackets from each of the hives.  We still may have some cold weather, but not as frigid as in the middle of winter.  On days like this, when the sun is shining, the hive gets quite warm. I am afraid that the black tar paper may just make it a little too warm for the girls.
If you look closely, you will notice that the front right hive has no bees by its lower entrance.  This is a bad sign.  I think I may have lost this hive during the winter.  Beekeepers will tell you that it is quite common to lose 20% of your hives during the overwintering process.  Looks like I am well within normal limits.  I hate to lose a hive, but if it is a weak one then I would rather it not survive and continue to be weak.  I will order new bees for this hive once I am sure that the old ones are dead.  The rest of the hives look like this today....
Let's hope for a perfect spring and early summer so that we can count on a big honey harvest!

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

I have been stung once in the past three years.  Good bee suits make all the difference!
We do not heat our honey....just drip it through a filter to remove old dead bee parts.
I do not use any medications, chemicals, etc, I practice natural beekeeping.
My honey is a mix of wildflower, clover, alfalfa, blueberry (whatever is growing on the farm)
Bees travel up to 2 miles away to look for nectar....we usually have plenty blooming right here, though.
Bees need a water source for drinking....we have a pond.
My hives are English Garden Hives....purchased through Brushy Mountain Bee Farms (online).
I purchase my bees locally from Bjorn Apiaries.
I love my girls!!!

Ok, have to get buzzy and clean the house....it's raining!!!


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10 comments:

Aussiemade said...

Oh bee hives how lovely. I get wonderful honey from a local bee keeper who does not use any heat on the honey. It is the best creamiest honey ever. I would love a hive one day. Have you been stung much? I love your hives so much more attractive than the boxes about here.

JudiB said...

Bees are so interesting. I am sure you enjoy watching there ways around the hives. We have several friends with hives so enjoy fresh honey every year. What a treat!!

We are also enjoying the warm weather. The heavy rain is supposed to start tomorrow so will enjoy our last day of dry weather. The snow is almost gone..yippee!!

Judi B.

Anke said...

Your bee hives are wonderful, they even look pretty. If if was up to me, we would have a hive (or two), but that is something hubby is not going to go along with. :-( The good thing is, we have a blueberry farm just a few mile from our house and they also have a bunch of hives on their property. Their honey is very tasty and I'm so glad I found the place.

kpaints said...

Thanks for the informative post. It would be nice to have such fresh and tasty honey here but I am almost very senstive to yellow jackets, so I think a hive is a bad idea for me. Darn. I find it very interesting.

Farm Girl said...

I wish I could "pop" in and just talk bees. I don't know why but the thought of loosing even one hive would get to me. I have enjoyed our bees so much and I love reading about yours. I wanted to raise my bees totally organic and to see that yours are doing well too makes me glad I chose to go this route,
I love working with my bees too,

Sandy said...

I'm glad to see that you protect yourself with a good bee suit. I don't know if I could do what you do as I don't like bee stings. Your bee boxes are attractive I must say. I don't know anything about gathering honey - why would it be heated (or not)? Do you sell your honey? Gee Bev I just love your blog - as a city girl - I love that I can have a taste of farm life through your experiences.

Teacup Lane (Sandy)

Kelly or Alex said...

Congrats on the healthy hives. Sorry about the one that was lost. It is sad when they don't make it. They look lovely.
Kelly

Maryjane - The Beehive Cottage said...

The Beekeeper! What a beautiful life you live Bev!

Jayme, The Coop Keeper said...

I ordered my hive last week, and my first bee club meeting is this Sunday....I'm scared. So glad to hear that you've only been stung once.....and you have FIVE hives, and I'm only getting one....:-) I have a feeling I might be picking your brain alot.

Rural Revival said...

Interesting post, thanks for the info. I'm starting my first hive this year. It's overwhelming, anxiety inducing and exciting all wrapped into one!

~Andrea~

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