Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Bee Arrival!

This past weekend we picked up a nuc of bees from the Killer Bee Farm about 3 miles away.  I wish I had a camera with me to capture the farm's apiary of 60 hives.  Killer Bee had a pretty impressive operation and he raises bees without using synthetic treatments for disease and parasites.  In the picture above you should see my waxed cardboard nuc box nestled under a tarp, wedged between two cinder blocks with bricks on top.  Of course, the morning after we bring the bees home, we had a thunderstorm and torrential downpours.  I wasn't willing to risk the cardboard holding up in the downpours so I covered everything with a tarp to keep everyone dry!

The variety of bees we received from Killer Bee are a hybrid of course because we never really know who the queen mates with, and she mates with about 15 or so drones.  Twenty years ago when Killer Bee started beekeeping, he had all Starline bees with Russian queens.  Starline bees are not sold in the US anymore (go to Canada) but he thinks the genetics are still found in his apiary.  Starline bees have really good genetics and I've been told have a high resistance to mites.  To keep a diverse apiary, Killer Bee introduced bees that he retrieved from a local bee tree this spring!  Someday I hope to discover a bee tree! 


Two days later I transferred the frames into their hive.  I kept the extra set of cinder blocks in place for resting equipment when I am inspecting the hives and for when I get a second hive.  You will probably notice that I have one deep and one shallow compared to the normal 2 deeps.  There are two reasons for this arrangement.  I didn't harvest the 4 frames of capped and partially capped honey from last year and instead saved them for feedings this spring rather than using sugar water.  I also noticed at the Killer Bee farm that he didn't use two deeps, instead he used one deep and one shallow on all of his hives.  I asked him about this and he said that he's had great success keeping bees over the winter with only that much space; he also receives more excess honey from the bees each year because of this system.  I'm thinking I will try this arrangement and see how quickly the bees consume their winter stores and if I will need to supplemental feed this coming winter. 

At the previous home we enjoyed watching the bees from the back patio; at this home, the bees are up on a flat area overseeing the fruit trees and garden.  From the vantage point of the patio where this picture was taken, I can barely see the bees come and go, but I enjoy watching them pollinate the bushes infront of the porch railing.  The hum is so loud that I keep thinking there is a swarm somewhere!


I have been worried all week because I have only seen a few honeybees on the clover in the yard.  There is clover everywhere and we've been delaying the lawn mowing for the bees.  Well, it only took Jon a few minutes to find the bees....they were in the tulip poplar (aka tulip) tree in the side yard!  From what I found doing a simple Google search, is that the tulip tree produces nectar for only a few days but is a high producer of nectar!  The tree has these beautiful yellow and orange tulip flowers; and a mature tree can yield about 2-2.5 pounds of finished honey which is a lot considering how much nectar that is.  


***With all the thunderstorms we've been having, I was thinking about the beehive and the fact that the roof is metal...what would happen if the hive was struck by lightning?  Thoughts anyone?


2 comments :

Christopher Beeson May 14, 2012 at 8:22 AM  

Hurray for new bees!

Looks like they've got a fantastic place to forage at your new house.

Chris

jenn merfee-t May 30, 2012 at 3:56 PM  

You are finally at home, now that you have a bee hive again! Exciting! As I was weeding yesterday and heard a familiar hum, I looked up to see a purple tree-sized bush covered with thousands of bees of every variety. Honey bees, bumble bees, and those tiny little ones too! The whole family stood there watching the bees work away. We saw the bees zipping off along their flight path and wondered if one of our neighbors hosts bees. And we thought of you and your hives. Spring is in the air!

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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