In the spring of 2012, we got our first bees. We took a fabulous class on Beekeeping from Roger Graham at Graham's Bee Works in Morgantown, Indiana. Then we jumped right in. So far, it's been a real trip! Stay tuned and we'll keep you posted.
That's me in the bee suit. I do not wear gloves when I work the hives. Yes, I've been pinged a few times, but it's easier to work things gently without gloves on.
For all of my posts on bees, click here.
Flower Lang (2012)
We're in a hollow, which means a lot of the worst prevailing winds go right over us. We have 40 acres and a lot of choices for where to put stuff. The first hives went at the top of a small hill just below a much bigger hill. They face east. In a perfect world, they'd have gravel underneath so we wouldn't have to mow very close to them.
- Start number of hives: 2 [packages]
- Replaced queen in lang
- Honey harvest: 37.5 lbs
- Hives to winter: 2
- Winter losses: 1 hive [50%]
- Start number of hives: 1 hive [lang]
- Splits: May 1
- Current number of hives: 2 [Tardis, lang]
- Replaced queen:
- Hives to winter:
- Winter losses:
List of pollen colors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollen_source
Great bee record keeping apps:
Great bee websites:
- forum.beemaster.com [Terrific amount knowledge and helpful people. Great vids]
- http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm Michael Bush's site. He's a bee genius.
- http://basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com/ Long Lane Honeybee Farm [Great lessons and vids.]
- http://learningbeekeeping.com McCartney Taylor [Great videos]
- http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com/ Linda's Bees. [A wealth of information!]
Some definitions of things that had me really confused when I got started:
- beek: beekeeper
- brood: the eggs and larvae
- brood box: the parts of the hive that have the brood in them. Usually they are the bottom two boxes. Excellent hives have both boxes full of brood.
- brood frame: The brood is in the center 70% or so of the frame. The bees put pollen and honey around the edges of the frames so that it's close to feed the larvae with.
- cluster: The group of bees, especially in the winter. They cluster together around the queen to keep warm. The cluster should be big enough that you see dozens of bees at the tops of the frames. If the cluster is too small the bees will freeze. This is what happened to us in one hive our first winter.
- frame: rectangular wooden frames that the bees build comb in. They fit side by side into a super and can easily be lifted out and checked.
- foundation: wax or plastic sheets of 'comb' that you can put in your frames to show the bees what to do. The bees finish drawing it out for brood and honey. Foundation was developed to manipulate the size of the cell that bees draw. Larger cells make larger bees which make more honey. The problem is that larger cells also encourage varroa mites. Also, the wax used in much of the world's foundation is contaminated with chemicals because it's gathered from mega operations which use a lot of chemical intervention. [see http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm]
- foundationless: the choice to use empty frames for your bees to draw their own comb on-the way nature intended. They draw the size they want from their own clean wax. The problem is that they don't always follow the guides on your frames. You have to learn to deal with burr comb, make repairs, etc. Our hives are all foundationless.
- hive boxes: the lower boxes that contain the brood and stores for the bees. I've seen this used to mean any box used on a hive for any reason. Check the context.
- nuc: nuclear hive. A small/mini hive. One small box with only 5 frames. Used to start brand new colonies with a new queen or used to house a very small swarm.
- supers: the boxes that hold the frames. They have no top or bottom. I have heard some folks call only the boxes for honey that are on top of the brood boxes supers. They make a distinction between the brood boxes/hive boxes and the honey supers that the beek will harvest from.
- top bar hive: hives that have no frames, but only bars that fit side by side across the top of the box. The bees draw comb down from these 'top bars'. These hives are inexpensive to build and are most often seen as horizontal hives that will have no supers added to them. Remember: horizontal hive bodies are a separate issue from top bars. A lot of people talk about them as if top bars can only be used with horizontal hive bodies and horizontal hive bodies can only have top bars. Not true. It's a mix and match kind of deal.