Count all the bees in the hive

Welcome to the end of beekeeping winter. With March around the corner beekeepers everywhere are thinking about spring and flowers and nectar and bees. It is common practice to worry about weather, flower blooms, hives, and equipment when you are a beekeeper, and I am no exception. Did we prepare for winter well enough to see the bees through this part of the season? Will the flowers bloom soon enough, or should I put some food in the hive? Do I have enough equipment for the year, and is it ready to go?

Hives in the snow
My hives Jupter2 and Titan2 on February 1, 2021. ©Erik Brown
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As the day lengthens, so the hive strengthens

It is snowing today. Between global warming and mountains to our west, we seem to get less and less snow every year. Which is a real shame as I enjoy the white stuff. If it is going to be cold, we may as well have snow. In a prior post I gave a rundown of my top bar hives from 2020, so in this post I share my Langstroth hives.

Langstroth hives on January 31, 2021: Pandora, Io, Calypso, Mars2, and Mercury. ©Erik Brown
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Silent Hives

It has become a Christmas tradition to post a bit of holiday poetry at this time of year. I had resolved to skip the tradition this year as I have been rather busy, then I just plain changed my mind a couple days ago and here I am. So allow me to present my latest work, for the sixth year in a row, Silent Hives.

My hives today (Dec 24, 2020) in the rain. The insulated one in front is actually two nucs sharing their warmth. All is calm. ©Erik Brown
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Put your hive records on

It has been forever and a day since I posted something here, so I thought I would share a review my hive performance this year. They are tucked in for winter right now, some hives stronger than others. In this post I will focus on my top bar hives, perhaps prompting me to do another post about my Langstroth hives in the coming weeks.

My top bar hives on August 4, 2020
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Queen Spotting

Hello family and friends! I haven’t found my way here in a bit, you would think staying home during a pandemic would give one lots of free time. As a bit of an introvert, I have quite enjoyed working from home and there is always a project to do with bees and a big yard. I was away this weekend to visit my favorite oldest daughter, and find myself with a bit of a free evening. So here are a few photos I have been meaning to share. Continue reading

Buzz!… I did it again

We humans may be isolating in our homes, but not the bees. They are out and about in Virginia, enjoying the weather, the nectar, the pollen, and generally just trying to expand the population. Yesterday (Friday) one of my hives swarmed not once, but twice.

The second of my two swarms. No idea why the swarm landed here, on the side of another hive. ©Erik Brown

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The early swarm catches the honey

The saying “may you live in interesting times” is often quoted as an old Chinese curse. It turns out this probably came from the British diplomatic service in the 1930’s rather than China, but it is apt to our situation nonetheless. We live in interesting times. March has been an especially interesting month for me, personally, and of the various stories I could tell I thought an early swarm might be the most interesting.

200317a Nuc Swarm

A swarm from my apiary on March 17, 2020 ©Erik Brown

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We’re buzzing for a bright Springtime

Well, this post got stuck in my queue and never made it out before Christmas, much to my dismay. I have had a wonderful holiday so far, and even though it is December 26 I thought I would post my annual bee song regardless. I think my first such post in 2015 was still my best; this year I used my darling wife’s favorite as the basis for my poetry.

This is sung to the tune of White Christmas. I tried to write it from the point of view of the bees, sitting in their cluster even as I type. Enjoy.

We’re buzzing for a bright Springtime
Just like the ones we used to know
Where the tree buds glisten
and evenings misting
So nectar and pollen start to flow

We’re buzzing for a bright Springtime
With every wing beat that I form
My our cluster be merry and warm
And may all your colonies go swarm

The queen was in the parlor, eating bread and honey

I attended our Virginia State Beekeepers Association Fall 2019 meeting at the Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Virginia, held the first Saturday in November. The theme this year was all about queens, as we had two wonderful speakers discuss their research: Heather Matilla and Alison McAfee. Posting this at the end of November seems to bookmark the month rather nicely.

Title slide for one of the talks at the VSBA 2019 Fall Meeting

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