Hives that go bump in the mite

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

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The Great Bee Escape

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

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May the force bee with you (A New Hive)

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

Ten nucs ready for pickup.  The back 7 are from a friend; the front three are mine

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Great hives from little nucs grow

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.

Apiary

The expanded apiary on April 14. ©Erik Brown

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Winter weather and beekeeper’s thoughts change often

161203a-sugar-cake

Making sugar cakes on December 3. © Erik Brown

My friend Gordon used to say that it takes three years to become a good teacher. We were teaching secondary school in Botswana, Africa at the time, preparing students for their O-level and A-level exams. Gordon said that you spend the first year figuring out the material, the second year figuring out how to teach, and the third year really teaching. Of course, I only taught for two years, so it never quite happened for me.

This may apply to how beekeepers overwinter bees as well. I read and learned much and stumbled through my first winter. As we enter my second winter I have stronger opinions about what I should have or could have done better. Next year I will be perfect. Continue reading