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

Continue reading

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

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

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

Eat, drink, and bee merry

In Virginia, we have six to eight weeks of summer dearth followed by an unreliable fall, so the best nectar the bees see is in spring and early summer. Last year, in my first year of beekeeping, another beekeeper told me to feed my hives in August and September. Otherwise they will eat much of their stores and not have enough for winter. Well, it turns out he was correct. Continue reading