To Bee Or Not To Bee (a Bee-odyssey)

Discussion in 'Environment' started by jjl, Feb 18, 2016.

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  1. jjl

    jjl it's not just transportation, it's a lifestyle

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    I have three hives that have survived this far.
    I am grateful because more bees are not in my budget this season.
    In the end, I started out with 3 colonies and ended with three colonies.
    It's a good thing I made splits or I would only have one hive left.
    The expensive nuc purchased for its lineage was the first fail.
    It's a shame because I didn't want Dr. Jon to think it was some kind of shortcoming in his forage or something.
    The other hive was made from 2 supplemental frames of bees and queen I was keeping in reserve for a hive that may need it.
    The frames and queen grew into a colony I called my dink hive.
    It might have made it if I had given it more winter sun.
    That was the hive that left those tremendous stores that will help the remaining colonies survive the rest of winter.
    We have a warm bout of weather headed our way, it is my plan to feed those leftover honey frames from my failed hive to the other 3.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  2. jjl

    jjl it's not just transportation, it's a lifestyle

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    Today the temperature hit 70(F). So I needed to check two of my three remaining hives to see who needed food and what they had left of their stores.
    I stopped first at Dr. Jon's place. Opened my Italian hive, checked their stores and gave them a frame of honey, even though they had no need of it. I gave them a sugar cake in their candy board for good measure, but in all honesty, I will be feeding them again next month.
    I do it because Mother Nature is fickle.
    I was double dressed and began to swelter under my Bee-duds. I asked Jim to finish closing it up while I went to a different field, to break down the nuc that I purchased so carefully. It had apparently failed and I had stripped it of its candy board. I felt bad about it, but after the initial shock of losing my first hive, I am more philosophical.
    I wasn't impressed by the extra cost of those "special Bees" though.
    I pulled my double pair of sweats down to my knees as I walked, I was wearing shorts underneath.
    Too damned hot otherwise.
    Dr. Jon's nuc is sort of set in a weird ditch/raised garden. I always wondered if the location was poor. The whole arrangement had wonderful forage and when he held his sister's wedding on the farm, he set a pair of chairs up, near the hive so that people could sip champagne and watch Bees.
    I rounded the corner and squinted at the recessed hive. I saw movement I thought. I blinked and hurried towards it.
    There was a cloud of Honey Bees, floating in front of it.
    I have a fourth colony that survived the winter.
    So far.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  3. jjl

    jjl it's not just transportation, it's a lifestyle

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    None of my hives needed any honey. I gave them each a frame, and fortified their candy boards.

    I still have a few frames of honey left over from my failed hive but am waiting to see how the rest of this freezin' season progresses.
     
  4. jjl

    jjl it's not just transportation, it's a lifestyle

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    Today is another warm day. (52f). My plan is to throw pollen patties into all of the hives, to get the queen laying again.
    Honey Queens need protein to lay brood.
    You don't want to feed pollen too early because too big of a colony in winter often results in food stores disappearing before winter is over.
    I follow mother nature. Right now even in a New England February, we have Skunk cabbage and Hazel putting out pollen,
    That's right, Hazel, the stuff they make Witch Hazel from.
    Told ja my honey is magickal
     
  5. jjl

    jjl it's not just transportation, it's a lifestyle

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  6. jjl

    jjl it's not just transportation, it's a lifestyle

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    This is no joke. Pretty much all the backyard beeks I meet are well-heeled retirees. Not rich, but certainly more comfortable than I am.
    It's as expensive as golf or hockey.
    But if you have the time and energy, you can like me, glean unused equipment from frustrated ex-beeks. If you get friendly with an experienced beek and help them out enough, (and really, if you have this opportunity I urge you to take it) they may be inclined to give you a swarm, or even a split if you buy a queen.
    When you get enough experience, raising queens is a great way to save money. I plan on trying this in June.
    A word of caution: I don't recommend buying a fully installed established hive without having a state inspector check it with you. I've known Beeks that got stuck with sick hives who spent thousands only to have to burn all the equipment on top of having to destroy the live colony.
    A sickening prospect.
    Every day I check the classified ads, mostly craigslist, for beekeeping bargains. At the moment I am on the prowl for glass jars to put my Honey in.
    And an electric extractor.
    Even Beekeeping on the cheap can get pretty spendy.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  7. jjl

    jjl it's not just transportation, it's a lifestyle

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    I haven't written about this because I felt so rotten about it.
    We had a few winter storms in March, one blizzard and then it warmed up quite dramatically.
    And rained.
    I was taking a treatment at Dr. Jon's. I don't get frequent treatments because my time is pretty limited these days and a treatment can go up to 3 hours if need be. He is pretty thorough.
    I had brought Jim along with me, we were going to get dinner afterward. Dr. Jon has a pleasant place and Jim wanted to check on our hives.
    It was a lengthy appointment that night and I was pretty foggy headed when I emerged to a driving rain. Jim greeted me with, "The Nuc is underwater."
    I hurried out to it to see that even though it wasn't underwater it was only two inches above it. With a screen bottom board, the chances for too much moisture were high and lethal.
    Jim and Jon looked at the hive with me and told me it was fine that way. I couldn't convince either of them to help me move it.
    With high winds likely driving the water up inside the hive, I resigned myself to another failed hive and went home.
    But I lay awake all night long.
    Because even if the colony was dead, leaving the hive sitting in that water was just plain lazy, shitty beekeeping.
     
  8. jjl

    jjl it's not just transportation, it's a lifestyle

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    Dr. Jon's nuc is sort of set in a weird ditch/raised garden.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
  9. jjl

    jjl it's not just transportation, it's a lifestyle

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    When the ditch was filled with water, it was more like this:
    [​IMG]
     
  10. jjl

    jjl it's not just transportation, it's a lifestyle

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    By morning I was determined to move that hive, dead or not.
    Poor Jim.
    I sent an email off to Jon warning him of an early arrival. He wakes early too apparently because he wrote back to offer me his mukluks for my feet.
    If anything, the weather had gotten worse and colder.
    Jim put bread bags over his shoes, I had the more expensive shoe coverings, thanks to Dr. Jon.
    He came along in case we needed a third hand.
    We brought a nifty folding table that has two settings for leg length and after we re-ratched the straps on the hive up, we set half the table legs on the shorter height, into the water next to the hive. We did not fold down the legs on the other end and were able to create a bridge to gently slide the hive to drier ground.
    Somehow Jon got hold of the hive before Jim did or something because soon he was holding it by himself and the hive was tipped.
    "Don't tip it!" I exclaimed.
    "I can't help it," said Jon.
    Jim didn't have hold of it so as I stepped forward to tilt it back upright, my mukluk pulled off and my stocking-ed foot went right into the squishy cold mud.
    I was in water up to my knees.
    A tilted hive is a queen killer.
    As I grabbed my end to hold it up, two of the boxes slid away from each other and now I was staring into a partially opened hive in torrential rain.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
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