There is a saying in beekeeping circles to “be a bee keeper, not a bee haver.” It expresses the notion that we should intervene with our bees when necessary to keep them alive, as a farmer typically does with any other livestock. The measurement of success for “keeping” your bees is for them to live through the winter and into spring. It is easy to have bees and then watch them die over the winter due to lack of food or varroa infestation; it is much harder to keep them healthy until the spring nectar flow begins. Be a bee keeper, not a bee haver.
I seem to be skirting the line between having and keeping bees lately.
Dead bees between the frames of Mars. ©Erik Brown
It is the time of year when beekeepers start thinking about winter, and whether the hives are strong enough to make it into spring. One key factor is the number of pesky mites in the hive, something I have been tracking since the end of July. This post chronicles my ongoing efforts to keep the little beasties under control.
We also dropped our youngest daughter at University in Massachusetts recently. I was on the lookout for bees, of course. ©Erik Brown
We have escaped our life in Virginia by travelling to Scotland for a bit. Among our many good times was a visit to Stirling Castle a few days ago. It turns out King James V of Scotland added The Royal Palace to the castle in the 1500’s. The statues on the outside were apparently named after my beehives.
On the corner of the Palace is a statue of King James V, after which statues of Ganymede, Venus, and Saturn appear. ©Erik Brown
This has been a busy month. Work, bike riding, yard tending, getting ready for a high school graduation, and of course bees. That last one has made for a rather interesting month. I have three updates that I will split into three posts so this doesn’t get too long. A Star Wars theme is never bad, so we’ll do this via the original episodes.
Ten nucs ready for pickup. The back 7 are from a friend; the front three are mine
We have had a few weeks of spring lately, with the air full of pollen and the bees going crazy. Rain and cool weather returned this weekend, so I am not able to work outside. I am instead sitting inside and writing this early spring update. A year will come when I feel that my springtime work with bees goes well and the hives are buzzing along, so to speak. This is not that year.
The expanded apiary on April 14. ©Erik Brown
The air smells slightly of pollen and the bees are going crazy, so you know that spring has arrived. Our cool nights are probably not totally over, and daytime temperatures occasionally call for a jacket. The hives are expanding quickly so it is time for a spring update.
My little apiary on March 25, 2017. ©Erik Brown
My hives catching the morning sun on Jan 8, 2017. My shadow is on the bottom left.
Given my prior post on goals for 2017, it seems only fair to revisit my goals from 2016, part of 1001 Arabian Mites. In the post I listed five areas to focus on in 2016. Now that we are firmly in 2017 I thought a brief report card is in order. Continue reading