Monday, April 1, 2013

Beekeeping: Some of Our First Moments

I'm not sure why I keep creating projects for myself, but I do. Beekeeping is one of my latest projects. My goal is to make my farm productive. I want to learn how to grow things. I want to learn how to provide for my family in a way that does not depend on the grocery store system that our culture depends too much on. I want to reconnect with nature and learn how to be a part of it rather than one who just "takes" from it. Bees seem to be a logical part of that. Without the bees and other pollinators we wouldn't have the diversity we have in our gardens. My orchard is currently only 14 young trees. The bees, I hope, will be a part of making them thrive and produce loads of fantastic fruit for my kids to enjoy.

So, beekeeping... I'm quite the novice. I really have no idea what I'm doing. I'm operating on one class and whatever reading I have had time for. This adventure calls for jumping into the deep end. A beekeeping starter kit was purchased. This kit comes with the full hive and the essential tools to get started.

I'm ready! well... I'm doing it.

Daddykirbs Farm Blog: Beekeeping

Here are some of our beginning moments.

Placing the Nucleus Hive

There was a few days between getting the Nucleus Hive and the actual hive. While we were wating for the actual hive to show up in the mail we had to put the nuc out on a stand. The bees needed to have the opportunity to carry on while we waited.


Opening the Nucleus

Like I just mentioned, the bees need to carry on with their hive duties. After all they don't know that this nucleus hive is temporary  To them it is home. Here you can see a moment right after I opened the hive. I sure hope they love their new home on the farm.


Installing the Nucleus Hive

A Nucleus Hive is a starter hive. This is one that is started by a professional beekeeper in a temporary plastic box. The nucleus or nuc (pronounced: nuke) that I purchased had 5 frames with an active colony including a queen. These 5 frames are standard sizes so they will swap right over into a new hive box when you get home.


Adding Water to the Top Feeder

For my hive setup I chose the Top Feeder. This is the box that fits right on top of the hive boxes. The bees have access from a hole in the bottom of the feeder. There is a wire mesh or screen inside so the bees will have something to cling to. This prevents the bees from drowning in the feed or water.

Update Update Update!

We removed the top feeder for now. The moisture in the hive was way too high to the point of some fuzzy mold. The top Honey Super was removed too because the bees still hadn't established in the bottom box. They were still operating on the first 5 original frames. I'm hoping that the lower moisture content of the hive and the reduced space will allow the bees to work more efficiently. Once they fill up the bottom box, I'll look at stacking the hive back up.


Looking for the Queen

When we installed the nuc we did not see the queen. This concerned me just a little. I wanted to make sure we had a queen in there doing her job. A colony without a queen will create one. This is really cool except that there is no way to control the genetics of this new queen. In our area there is some concern for a colony becoming Africanized. With a queen from a known source you can control this process a little better.


Just another fun video watching nature work

I'm still very much a NOOB so I like to observe the hive whenever I can. I'm hoping this will teach me "the ways of the bee" LOL. I captured this short video while I was at the hive the other day. The bees are scooting this beetle along like he is a bum on the street in front of an exclusive high dollar club (sad analogy, perhaps... but's it's the picture I had in my mind).


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