Becoming a Beekeeper

honeybee_genehansonWith the increase discussion on Bee Colony Collapse, I made the decision this year to start keeping bees.   I have absolutely no experience and I don’t know anyone that is a beekeeper, so this endeavor is most definitely a learning and more learning experience. There are so many reason I wanted to pursue this hobby.  Sure I want some honey, but really, I want to do my part and help the bees.  I love everything in nature and keeping bees just seems like the right thing to do and a perfect addition to our little hobby farm.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much time to prepare as I originally thought and that turned out to be pretty stressful for me.  You see, timing is very important for bee keepers and for bees. So the fact that my two nucs of bees ( a queen and her nucleous of bees) came in two weeks earlier than expected sent me in a little bit of a tail spin.

On the way home from work I received a call, “the bees are in”.  That’s when the tailspin began.  I was behind the eight ball at that very moment, and I knew it.  You see, I had bought two of everything.  Two bottom boards, two brood chambers, and two supers and two telescoping covers.  I was all set, except they were unfinished.  I had put a coat of finish and polyurethen on each piece, but I still had to finish sanding them and applying the second coat. Problem was it was raining, so I skipped bible study and finished everything in our garage and put a fan on the pieces and prayed they would be dry by the next day.  Oh and called my boss and told him I would be late the next morning, “my bees have come in.”  I could hear him roll his eyes.

Sure enough I drove to my local bee keeping supply folks the next morning and he loaded two nucs of bees in the back of my truck.  We talk for a few minutes and I asked every question that I could think of.  I knew Scott from the beekeeping class that I had taken a few weeks earlier.  He was very patient with me and told me every step to install the nucs.  I started sweating as soon as the nucs were in the truck, I was thinking, I am about to pick bees up out of this box and put them in my hive…Oh my, what am I doing.  I haven’t even looked at another hive.  I had watch video after video which did give me a little more confidence.   It was raining that morning and I knew I couldn’t install them until the rain had stopped and the sun came out.

Finally the sun came out, I suited up, got my smoker going, grabbed my hive tool, took a couple of deep breaths and off I go, alone, with 10,000 bees……..and I did it.  I installed a nuc of bees in one of my hives.  It started to cloud up again and I decided to wait to install the other nuc when I got home later that afternoon.  But when I got home it was pouring down rain.  So I couldn’t install the second nuc.  The next morning, it was raining, so installing the nuc would have to wait.  Finally at 1:00pm, I installed the second nuc.  And guess what, “Queen cells”.  I installed them anyway.  I had read enough and learned enough to know that “queen cells” were not good.

So I called Scott about the queens cells and his advise was cut them out and put it on facebook to see if anyone could use the queen.  Once I put it on the SC beekeeping association facebook page, I was inundated with suggestions and theories about how the  bees were in swarm mode and I may want to keep the queen cells in case the current queen swarmed.  I have just gone from beekeeping 101 to advanced beekeeping.  I am no where near ready to start rearing Queens.  But this is what I am faced with.

I decided after doing some more reading to open the hive with the queen cells and if they are still there, I am gonna remove the frame that the queens cell are on and start a new nuc.  If that nuc is successful, I now have a 3rd hive, just like that.

I hunt because it makes my heart beat fast, I garden because when everything is coming in at once, it makes my heart beat fast.  I can already tell that beekeeping is for me, because it too makes my heart beat fast.

Stay tuned….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Becoming a Beekeeper

  1. Remember the bees you have bought are not wild bees so you are not supporting nature. We love bees and keep them ourselves but if you really want to support nature you could think about supporting your wild population of bees. There are about 20,000 species of bees in the world – Apis mellifera, the honey bee mostly kept by man is only one of them. Amelia

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    • Thank you for your reply afrenchgarden. Even though the bees that I have are not wild bees, they still play an important roll in pollinating my garden and fruit trees. Having been a flower and vegetable gardener for as long as I can remember, I think that I do contribute to all other pollinators. If you will check out some of my past post you will see that I encourage all things natural in my garden, butterflies, bees, lady bugs, and on and on. Thank you for your advise and I do plan to put out a trap to catch a wild swarm of bees. Probably not this year since I am so new at beekeeping, but it is on my list of things to do. Take care!

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