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 has been bitterly cold the last two weeks (at least by Virginia standards), often below 10 F (-12 C) overnight, and that is without the wind. As a young beekeeper, I worry that my hives will not handle the cold well. One or two may already have died out, for all I know. Unfortunately it is still January so we must wait. Nothing to do but publish my beekeeping goals for 2018. Continue reading
Winter….. Snow, cold, and wind….. The bees cluster in their hives and beekeepers keep watch, read a few beekeeping books, and prepare for spring. As we near the winter solstice, this seems like a good time for a status update on my six hives. So here it is. Continue reading
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. This is my second of three topics I wanted to cover under a Star Wars theme. The picture says it all.
It is never good when the hive falls over. ©Erik Brown
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
Ah well, I’ve been saying for weeks that Mars is very weak. It turns out I’ve been mixing up my hives and it was Jupiter all along. I found no debris on the bottom board before work yesterday, and at the end of the rather warm day the hive was already being robbed out. A cluster of dead bees on the comb and a few others on the bottom. Continue reading
Red Dead-nettle about to bloom in the bee yard on February 24, 2017. ©Erik Brown
Spring is in the air, though winter made a visit this week. The plants are gearing up for full bloom, with yellow daffodils and red quince bushes starting the show. The maple trees are in bloom as well, so there is nectar and pollen for the taking if the weather would warm up. I have been updating my bloom date log for 2017, and thought is was worth a quick mention as a new post. Continue reading