Honey Bees! Sparky has long held an interest in bee keeping for pollination purposes as bee populations have dramatically declined in the USA which endangers crop production. I have an interest in bee keeping because I love honey! So, bee keeping is our latest endeavor with Sparky doing most of the work and me being the support bee. When we still lived in Germany, Dan built a Top Bar Bee Hive and brought it home with us. He set it up last year but due to our general lack of experience and knowledge coupled with a late start, extreme heat and drought, the hive eventually failed. Undeterred, he decided to give it a go once more after doing a lot of online research. He felt better after learning that hive failure in the first year was very common and that experience is the best teacher.
We attended a bee keeping seminar at North 40 farm and ranch supply in Omak and ordered a new hive called the ” Langstroth” style, which is the traditional square box shape you see out in fields, plus other equipment.
The hive came in literally several hundred pieces and had to be constructed and painted before being filled with Honey Bees. Dan is pretty talented with construction and had the hive together in no time at all.
These plastic boards had to be assembled, then coated in liquid Bees Wax. The bees will build their combs and fill them with honey on these boards.
The boards fit down inside the hive. This is the bottom box or “deep.” The bees will live down there. The upper box is called the “super” and that’s where the honey will be stored.
The hive top is metal covered wood which makes it waterproof.
I ordered a Nucleous of Honey Bees, called a “Nuc” from a supplier and yesterday we drove 2 hours down to the town of Clayton to pick them up. This cardboard box is literally humming with bee activity and is warm to the touch. The supplier had probably 100 of these Nucs.
The Bees have to be fed until they establish their hive and a ready supply of pollen is available. Where we live that can be another month. I made a syrup of sugar and water, 60% sugar and 40% water as instructed.
The syrup goes into this feeder which attaches to the be hive.
And then the FUN BEGAN! Or……how to transfer the Nuc to the new hive safely for both Sparky and the Bees. It involves using a smoker which will sort of sedate the bees for the transfer. Today is still pretty cold so they weren’t terribly active, but it’s good to be prepared.
After placing the hive where he can access it it easily, Sparky went to suit up.
Hat, face screen and gloves later, here he is! Handsome devil!
Now he has some real smoke going so Dan loaded up the Bees and headed down to the hive.
Each “Nuc” comes with a Queen Bee encapsulated in a cage. The cage is plugged with a sugar plug which the workers will gnaw open to release the Queen. Without Ms. Queen Bee, no eggs will be laid and no honey produced to feed the new bees. The Queen is handled very carefully to ensure she survives. That’s her cage circled in red.
All 5 of the Bee laden boards are placed in the hive. There are thousands of Bees!
Did I tell you thousands of Bees? Holy Moly!
The Bees are all in and the cover will bee ( hahaha) applied. Lastly, a “Do Not Disturb” sign will bee hung beecause the bees need not to bee ( I’m getting a tad carried away here ) disturbed for at least 10 days. They need time to acclimate to their new surroundings so they can settle down and start the important business of Honey production.The bees are free to come and go as they please but absolutely NO peeking allowed!
Honey production is not the primary goal this season. The survival of the hive is the goal. If we do manage to obtain some honey, that will be great but most of this years honey will be used by the bees to ensure their survival over next winter.
Wish us luck in our new project. I’ll bee keeping you posted over the next months as to how the hive is progressing. Hopefully they will bee busy as Bees!
Bee sure to stop by my website at: www.thejourneygirl.com and leave me a comment. I love hearing from you all!
Until next time,
Hugs and much love from me,