All kinds of hives make an apiary

Spending the afternoon inside today: a good time for a new post. Beeswax is melting on the stove, my darling wife is crafting, and I am sitting in my favorite chair typing on a keyboard. Given that my blog missed much of the beekeeping year, this post summarizes where I ended up in terms of hives.

181013c Apiary

My hives on October 13, 2018. Lower right is Titan; on the left Saturn, Mimas, and Atlas; and in the back is Pandora, Venus, and Calypso. ©Erik Brown

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To the bee a flower is the fountain of life

It seems to be a recurring spring theme. I get busy and stop posting. So here we are in July and I have a desire to catch up. At some point I will have to translate my beekeeping notes into a post for posterity’s sake. In the meantime I will simply post about my efforts to have a more pollinator friendly yard.

I haven’t seen a monarch butterfly in our area for years. This one arrived while I was looking at our first sunflower bloom of the year. Hopefully we will soon have some caterpillars on our milkweed plants (the only food monarch caterpillars eat). ©Erik Brown

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Definition: Bearding

When the temperature is high, the bees will gather on the outside of the hive in a practice called bearding. This removes their body heat from the inside and helps cool the hive. Sometimes bees with gather like this before swarming, but in high temperatures this type of behavior is usually bearding.

Bearding

My top bar hive Saturn on July 1, 2018 at 8 pm in the evening. Temperatures were above 95 F during the day, with a heat index near 110 F. Most of the bees are gathered above the entrance, though many are also hanging below the hive.

Life is for each queen a solitary cell

I spent some time in the apiary yesterday with some nice weather. Not too hot and very sunny. The bees were happy, as far as I could tell. Foragers are all over our cherry trees, and I saw them working the holly, dandelions, and viburnum this weekend as well. The nectar flow has definitely arrived, so an update on my hives seems appropriate.

The cherry trees just outside my apiary (the flowering bushes inside the fence are viburnum). The trees are in full bloom, with the smell the flowers and the buzzing of bees when you walk beneath. ©Erik Brown

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A bee is a dandelion in her own cause

Dandelions in our yard on March 31, 2018. ©Erik Brown

March was colder than February here in Virginia. Our favorite weatherman said tonight that this is only the second year this has happened. The first time was last year, when we had a very warm February and a cold March. This year we had a cool February and a cooler March.

Needless to say, the flowers are off to a slow start this year, with the bees alternating between huddling for warmth and flying for joy. It seems a short post to welcome some spring and flowers into our world is in order. Continue reading

You can’t get honey from a mason bee

We had our biggest snowfall of the winter today. Actually, it was the only significant snowfall this winter. We’ve had stretches of very cold weather, without any snow. Two days ago it was sunny and warm (60 F /15 C) out and the bees were very happy. Today is the first day of spring, and they are clustered in the hive.

As such, a good time for another post on a native bee species: mason bees. These hard working bees are smaller than honey bees and prolific pollinators. My friend Tammy gave me a book on these bees for Christmas, and it inspired me to put a Mason Bee House on my birthday list.

My top bar hives in the cold this morning (March 21, 2018). ©Erik Brown

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