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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Every hive has its own law

W170226-marsell, it’s official, or at least I am official. After an inspection this past week, I am legally permitted to sell bees in the state of Virginia. I have the stickers to prove it.

In our weather, we had three days over 70 F (21 C) this past week, and the hives are starting to raise brood in earnest to prepare for springtime.

The photo here shows Mars reduced to one medium with some extra stores on top, with Ganymede (the Lang) and Venus (the top bar) in the back. Continue reading

A world without nucleus hives would be less stable and more dangerous

After my success at reducing a standard deep nuc to a medium one (see Busy beeks are always metaling), I decided to take on the more daunting task of building a top bar hive nuc. After an adventure with hardware stores (yes, plural) and some minor angst on my part, I deem the effort a success.

170115e-tbh-nuc Continue reading

Winter weather and beekeeper’s thoughts change often

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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

As the Hive Turns

Last month I realized my hive Saturn was facing a bit northerly. Our winter winds can be rather blustery, and I was worried about the cold blowing into the front of the hive. I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it, until someone suggested on beesource.com that I turn the hive around. So I did.

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My hive Saturn on October 29, facing mainly northwest. Our winter winds would blow right into the entrance. © Erik Brown

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