A Beekeepers Short Story

The troops were all dead.  It was a killing field, or maybe the detonation of a small nuclear device, befitting the size of a bee, smuggled in on the back of some non-descript illegal; maybe a yellow jacket, or a hive beetle perhaps?  The top bars were covered with dead and not a single one stirred when their home was taken away by wheelbarrow.

A cool breeze sifted through the lifeless tan and bronze bodies and found none worthy of flight.  The weak sun, its honey colored glow serving only to highlight the disaster, failed in its effort to muster even one to attention.

It had once been a thriving city, this emerald in the desert.  Its Queen was held in the highest esteem and the little city was known far and wide for its royal jelly.  So cheerful and productive were its citizens that the city burst with growth, ever expanding until its walls hummed with the buzz of good cheer.  Guards were stationed at the front gate, ever alert and at attention, while the citizens came and went on their busy errands. Some brought nectar to honor the Queen while others brought stores of pollen for her workers.  The Guardian thrilled at the sight of them approaching the gate, laden with their weighty loads of plunder and landing heavily on the deck before going inside to present their gifts to the Queen.

As the supplies came in, waves of other bees would leave for the fields to gather from crocus, daffodils and hyacinth.  This golden pollen and sweet nectar would not be enough to feed the masses, but the season was early and it was only the first fruits of the season.  A cry had gone out from the Queens attendants that food supplies were running low and every available worker was needed to bring in the fuel that would feed and heat the castle.

Alas, their efforts failed.

On the eve of a bitter, frosty night, with temperatures hovering near 8 degrees, the heat had gone out in the castle.  All hands gathered around the Queen to protect her and keep her warm.  They worked their wings like they did every night, striving to maintain 90 degrees in the castle, but one by one, they fell away.  The food supplies were exhausted and the workers, already weakened from lack of nourishment, could not keep the heat on throughout the night.  As they perished, the remaining few worked harder than ever to maintain warmth in the castle, causing them also to fall aside with exhaustion.

Prowling, baying and ever present, the Queens greatest enemy crept through the unguarded door.  First to the far reaches of the castle, then down the halls and through the doors to the inner chambers where it’s cold, frozen fingers immobilized the guards and reached the young brood snuggled in their beds. Quietly it stilled them before proceeding to snuff out the workers and subdue the Queen herself.  The castle fell silent.

This is how the Guardian found them the next morning.  Searching throughout the castle, not even a single bee was moving.  It appeared all had been lost and the thriving little kingdom would perish.

Resting on a stump, reflecting on his loss, he watched the workers in a nearby lesser realm working the same fields of spring color the now perished kingdom had once worked.  They would have known workers from the lost kingdom and he was sure that word had already spread throughout the land.  It was then the Guardian felt the pangs of loss again.  He looked back toward the empty gates of the now silent hive.  No longer were heavily laden flights landing like newborn birds learning their craft.  It seemed impossible, that just hours before, this flourishing little empire had been silenced.  The Guardian mourned the loss of a dear friend, a friend closer to his heart than he had known.

The world could never know what he had celebrated with these miniature friends, for few can know the intimacy shared between man and beast, however small, except those that occasionally choose to leave this world and become part of theirs.  He had walked the halls of their castle, known the inner sanctum and shared its secrets like no other.  The weight of it all brought not just the tears to his eyes, but the burden of knowing he had broken the bond of trust shared with the keepers of this little fortress.  If only he had brought food to carry them through the spring until natures nectar flow filled the hive with nourishment.

The Guardian remained there on the stump, pondering his mistake and longing for another chance.  The incessant buzz of workers in the nearby realm coming and going on their busy appointments, digging at his reminiscence of the times he had shared in the now silent deep residing before him.  One worker of those workers, struggling under its load came to rest upon his knee.  It paused long enough to rest its wings and he longed to carry it to the deck of its hive and spare it the effort to finish its trip.  Instead he simply watched while the bee looked up and appraised him with suspicion, before adjusting its wings to absorb the warmth of the sun.  Then, after a couple short buzzes, lifted up and lumbered to the landing deck of its own castle, the bright yellow pollen gleaming on its legs.

As that single bee moved on with its life, the Guardian knew he must do the same and with one last glance at the still and lifeless bodies lying atop the frames of the bottom deep, he turned to go. The sun was gaining strength now and he felt its warmth reaching through his jacket as he passed the swelling buds on the peach tree.  Then, upon approaching the upper half of the castle he had brought back to the house in his wheelbarrow, he could not believe his eyes.  Surely he was mistaken, but the top of the hive, all along the top bars, was moving, slowly, but moving none the less.

Quickly he returned with this piece of the hive and restored the castle.  He found blankets to wrap around the castle in an effort to keep out the wind and restore warmth.  He brought feed in the form of warm sugar water and soon the workers drank deeply.  A quart and a half in one day!  Now the fight was on.  Were their enough workers remaining to heat the castle?  Would sugar water be enough?  Was all the brood dead?  Was the Queen still a live?  Long live the Queen!

Surely honey would be better than sugar water and the Guardian knew just where to find it.  Off he went, but before he could return the weather turned sour, the wind grew strong and pulled the cold northern air down across the desert.  As the flower blossoms closed, the Guardian made sure the castle was wrapped tight so no drafts were allowed inside.  Were there enough bees remaining alive to fight off the cold?  He did not know if their diminished numbers could accomplish the task.

The following day the weather continued to deteriorate and the Guardian dared not open the hive lest he release any heat the bees had managed to sustain.  Once again he adjusted the blankets, making sure the little castle was protected from the wind and returned to his own castle to wait out the storm.  The wind brought with it dashes of snow and a light rain.  The odds were working against the keepers of the deep and he feared for their lives.

But in the morning blue sky had broke free and the wind abated, the Guardian approached the front of the hive where the sun now bestowed its warmth.  They were there, busily making their trips to the field and in greater numbers than he had dared to hope.  Still he restrained his hand from opening the hive and allowing in the cold.  Hope was alive and he dared not kill it for lack of patience.  He busied himself in the garden for much of the day while making frequent trips to the palace of the Queen to watch in amazement at the life now returned to these once lifeless bodies.

Late in the day the sun burst forth in a brilliant display of its strength and beauty.  Its golden glow brought life to all living creatures who now reveled in its warmth, shaking off the cold damp chill that had ruled the land.  The Guardian rushed to the castle with a frame of pure golden honey in his hands.  After removing the roof from the top of the castle he was thrilled and amazed at the activity within.  The killing field had returned to life.  Though mountains of dead bees lay upon the bottom board in the basement of the castle where the workers had cast them aside, it appeared enough of the once lifeless forms had returned from the dead to make a go of it.

Gently he removed an empty frame and replaced it with a full frame of the honey he had acquired.  Now they would have the fuel they needed to run at full strength. A number of the workers and guard bees bombed him and dove at his head, causing the Guardian to smile.  He had not used his smoker to subdue their activity as surely they had been through enough and instead wore only is protective suit, happy to see them alive and doing their jobs.

As the days passed, a procession of even more dead bodies consisting of workers bees and many, many young, killed in their slumber by Jack Frosts icy blue hands were added to the growing graveyard at front of the castle.  But the surviving bees, once brought low by the same winter cold, carried on.  They ate the honey, fed the Queen and she produced more young.  The workers brought in the abundance from the field.  Soon the glory of the old kingdom returned and with it so did the glow of satisfaction in simple things, return to the Guardian.

A Thanksgiving Check Up

The day before Thanksgiving was sunny and mild and I could not resist the temptation to have a peak inside my hives.  After all, we had a serious cold spell about  two weeks ago.  Cold is not usually a problem for healthy hives, but this cold spell came on so fast I did have to wonder about my girls.

We had balmy weather for weeks this fall and then suddenly we were hit with single digit temperatures, including three nights below zero, the lowest being 19 degrees below!  I knew my hives were healthy going into winter with good stores of food, but remember those two new hives I spoke about in the last article?  Ah-huh, definitely smaller hives with fewer numbers of bees.

So with a full sun shining on my hives and no wind I decided to take a look inside.  I have eight hives here at the house and simply removed the cover and then the inner cover to peak inside.  Even though it was nice out you don’t leave the hive open for long so no frames were pulled from the hives, just a look on top for numbers.

I am happy to report that all hives weathered the cold just fine.  While you can clearly see a difference in numbers from one hive to the next, they all look good with the exception of one hive and this is the first of the two new hives.  Clearly there is enough food stored away but the ball of bees in this hive is not much larger than a softball.  Technically a cluster the size of a softball is all that is needed to stay warm and winter and clearly they had done so.  My concern with this hive is for when the queen takes a break from laying in December, something all queens do for a few weeks.  Because many of the bees in this hive were added from other hives I do not know how old they are, they may continue to die off and not be replaced with new bees when the queen takes a break from laying.  Otherwise, all the hives look really good, including the second of the two new hives that were started.

When we were tossing log after log into the woodstove to stay warm during those zero degree days, the bees in each hive were clustered together maintaining a temperature of around 90 degrees.  I thought of them often, almost every time I added wood to the stove, but there was no need to worry.  They are healthy, doing well and most of all, doing what bees do; gather around their queen, keep her warm, feed her and rest up while waiting for spring.

On a side note, bees born in late fall or early winter are the longest lived bees in the hive.  Because they are not outside flying each and every daylight hour to collet nectar and pollen, these bees will live for months instead of only weeks.  They will see the hive through the winter months so that it can prosper once again in the spring.

Happy Holidays to everyone.  Just like the bees, winter is a time of rest and staying warm.  May the warmth of your family sweeten winter days with cozy mugs of cheer.

A New Hive at this Time of Year??????

Been a while since I’ve posted anything and wanted to get out a little update.  Been very busy working on the sequel to my fiction book “Truths Blood”.  Writing is my winter time passion and as I wrap up the work associated with my bees I turn to writing.

It is also election season and while I rarely get political on this blog I cant help but mention one thing.  We have a ballot measure her in Oregon that would require food products containing GMO’s to be labeled.  If you’ve read my blogs you know how I feel about GMO’s and how detrimental they are to honeybees.  But my comment here comes from another angle.  This is a Citizen-based initiative established by people who genuinely care about and want to know what they are eating, while the opponents – largely massive conglomerates – counter with a LOT of money, tens of millions of dollars, and baseless statements that scare people into believing things that simply aren’t true.

I find it disgusting that citizens who simply want to know what’s in their food can be prevented from doing so by giant corporations spending massive sums of money.  My only comment folks is that we as a nation are far too complacent about our food supply and we are foolish to think these huge conglomerates care about what we eat.  It is worth your time to become more familiar with these issues.

Ok, nuff said.  GMO’s are hard on bees so its difficult for me to let his issue go.

So what’s going on in the beeyard?  I always make an in depth inspection of every hive, late in the year and just completed that recently.  I found one hive with no queen, absolutely no brood or larva and another hive (which was a new package this season) doing the re-queening thing.  If you read my earlier post about the poor quality queens coming with the packages from California you know what I’m talking about.  So I ordered up two new queens to install in the problem hives.

When the queens arrived I did another complete inspection of both hives.  In the one with no brood or larva I found a queen this time.  The hive is stuffed full of bees and I simply over looked her the first time.  She’s a big fat healthy looking queen too.  So even though it seems way too early for the queen to quit laying (that usually happens in Dec/Jan) I decided to leave the queen alone figuring she knows best.  This left me with an extra queen.

I requeened the other hive with queen issues and a strange hive it is.  Three queen cells had hatched.  (Usually the new queen chews through the side and the queens yet to hatch are stung to death by the first queen that hatches)  There was also a perfectly formed and soon to hatch queen cell and on the same frame right next to it was another queen cell in the process of hatching.  This hive is even raising drones, but there are no drones out and about this time of year as they are all tossed out of the hives by now and there is no way a new queen would be properly mated.  I dispatched with all cells and queens and installed the queen I purchased.

What to do with extra queen.  Well, what does a queen need?  She needs workers and stores to make it through the winter.  I went to my strong healthy hives that have lots of stores and borrowed five frames of stores to create a new hive in a nuc box.  I also added many “shakes” of bees from those different hives to the new nuc to create a workforce.  These bees wont be missed in their old hives as most of them will soon be dead  anyway.  Then I shut down the entrance to the smallest opening and installed the new queen cage.  I also put on a top feeder on the nuc in hopes of keeping the new bees around with the feed.  By not moving the new hive out of the beeyard the bees that leave this hive would likely return to their old hive.

I have not yet disturbed the two hives while they accept and release the new queens.  There is never a guarantee that new queens added to a hive will be accepted but the best success is had by not disturbing the hives.  This is a fun experiment to me.  I have never even dreamed of creating a new hive this late in the season.  I will update soon on the condition of these hives and let you know how things are going.

Take care, I hope all is well with everyone.

 

Preparing your Hive for Winter

Its been a busy few weeks.  The honey has been harvested from my local hives and this last weekend we traveled to some hives we have out of town.  There I put on a class and harvested a small amount of honey from some newly established hives.  Our demonstration included use of an old hand crank extractor that had been converted to a variable speed motorized extractor.  We also demonstrated the crush and strain method.  When I was first starting out a wise old beekeeper once told me not to spend the hundreds of dollars it takes to purchase an extractor until I knew for sure that beekeeping was what I wanted to do.  Its good advice and I recommend it to anyone just getting into beekeeping.  I still use the crush and strain method today as I enjoy this authentic way of obtaining my honey.

This time of year, (at least in the northern climates) your bees will likely have kicked out all the drones (I watched one being tossed out just the other day) and have filled all cracks (and everywhere else it would seem) with propolis in preparation for winter.  When temps drop below 54 to 57 the bees will from a cluster around the queen in the brood chamber.  The cluster of workers maintains a temp of about 92 degrees.  The bees eat while in the cluster and move around as a cluster.  When temps drop below 40 to 45 they are unable to move about but stay warm in the cluster by shivering their wings.  Bees wont defecate in the hive and will hold off until it is warm enough (45 to 50) to make cleansing flights.  (Another reason you don’t want chemicals in your hive.)  The queen will stop laying for a period of a few weeks in the winter.  The workers live much longer (months instead of weeks) in the winter because they are not flying very much.

If you find your bees do not have enough stores for winter (at least 40 to 50 pounds of honey) you can feed them a 2-1 mixture of sugar to water.  As long as the weather is warm they will be able to take this in a store it.  There is a recipe of essential oils at the bottom that helps with hive health and controls mites.

If your hive is in an exposed or windy site, you might consider moving it against a south facing wall where the wall will give off heat during the night.  You could also shield the hive from the prevailing wind by putting up some protection with hay bales.  Some people wrap their hives in tar paper which gets warm in the sun and helps to heat the hive.  I’m not convinced this is necessary and some folks can even get into trouble doing this by closing up the hive to tightly so their is not enough air flow to remove moisture from the hive.  Sometime they also end up blocking the entrance to the hive.  A prudent middle ground for those who want to use tar paper would be to place a couple layers of it across the top of the hive, held down with a rock.

You will also want to tilt your hive forward so that moisture which accumulates on the inner cover does not drip down onto the bees.  This condensation dripping onto your bees will kill them.  To accomplish this place blocks of wood that are 3/4 of an inch to one inch thick under the back of your hive.  Another thing that helps with ventilation is to glue popsicle sticks to the underside of the corners of your inner cover.  This allows a gentle flow of air through the hive that will assist in removing the moisture that is generated when your bees consume their honey stores over the course of the winter.

Finally, add a mouse guard.  Mice love the warm, protected environment of a hive, but you wont appreciate the kind of damage they can do.

Below is the recipe for mite control and hive health.

Concentrate Mixture – To one cup of water add 1 teaspoon of wintergreen essential oil and 3/4 of a teaspoon of Tea Tree oil.  The wintergreen will kill mites and the tea tree oil works as an anti-bacterial.  (Mites bring bacteria into the hive with them and cause disease)  Blend this mixture in a blender on low speed for 5 minutes.  Then add the concentrate to a half gallon container and fill with water.

Feed your bees a 2-1 sugar water mixture for 3 to 4 weeks (you don’t  need to have feed in front of them day in and day out, just feed a couple times a week).  When you mix your sugar water add one cup of your essential oil mixture (from your half gallon container) to one gallon of sugar water mix.

 

A Short Lesson in Honey

Traditionally, honey is heated and filtered so it will remain liquid much longer. In an effort to keep honey’s natural crystallization from occurring, most commercial honey is heated and pasteurized, eliminating its fragrance and changing the chemical composition of the honey itself. Then at these high temperatures the honey is ultra-filtered. Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down with corn syrup or other sweet, non-honey products and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey – some containing illegal animal antibiotics and/or contaminated with heavy metals – on the U.S. market for years. The pollen is removed to hide where the honey came from.

• Raw honey is not heated and pasteurized like regular honey.100_4386

• Raw honey contains many antioxidants and enzymes that are destroyed during heating.

It’s during the process of pasteurization much of the nutritional content of raw honey is destroyed. Powerful antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins are destroyed when heating is applied to raw honey. Raw honey is anti-viral, anti-fungal and antibacterial in nature, but the same cannot be said about regular honey because of the heating process that is applied. Frankly, you may as well sit down and eat from a bag of refined sugar if you’re using store bought commercial honey.

“MY HONEY HAS CRYSTALLIZED, HAS IT GONE BAD?”
No, honey never spoils. Archaeologists have found honey in ancient Egyptian tombs that was still edible.  Bacteria cannot grow in real honey.  Its high acidity and tiny amount of naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide prevent bacteria from growing and therefore real honey never spoils. Don’t put your honey in the refrigerator, as cold temperatures speed the crystallization of honey, however, you can gently heat it in a sauce pan of water to liquefy it.  Most honey will crystallize eventually and many people prefer it that way. Spoon it into tea where it melts quickly or spread it on toast.

Raw honey contains all of the nutrients needed for good health including vitamins A, C, D, E, certain amino acids and high concentrations of B-complex vitamins. It also contains beneficial enzymes and one of these enzymes is amylase which aids in digestion of breads and other starchy foods. Raw honey’s antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties can also help improve the digestive system, yet these are the very things the high heat and filtering of process destroy.

AND FINALLY – With possibly rare exceptions, commercial honey and even some you are told is locally raised, comes from hives treated with insecticides to fight the Varroa mite. These insecticides (called miticides) leave behind residues in both the wax and in the honey. Though deemed safe, do you really want an insecticide in your honey? My own honey comes from hives that are never treated with miticides. Our honey is never heated or filtered. It is pure, raw honey directly from the hive and contains all the natural nutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids and pollen of real, unadulterated honey.

Natural, raw honey takes more time and man power.  Its produced by hand.  You can buy cheaper honey, but its really honey in name only.

Don’t Bee That Guy!

Have you been thinking about keeping bees? Its all the rage you know, why not jump in – and therein lies the problem.

Today I was at the Quickie Lube place in town getting the oil changed in my car. I always get there early and there was just one other person in the waiting room when I arrived. This old boy was reading some “Hollywood people” magazine – gotta keep up with all those trendy people you know – NOT!

A few minutes later a woman came in and sat down between the two of us. It just so happens that I know her because I have beehives at her place. She’s a lovely lady whose dealing with some tough issues and we soon began a conversation. Before long the conversation turned to the bees and the honey we can expect to get from the hives at her place. That’s when “Mr. Hollywood” puts down his magazine and joins the conversation we were having. “Oh, I had bees. Damn things died on me. I put them in my greenhouse and they died.” He went on to express his frustration with the bees and then added that even the plants in his greenhouse had died. Couldn’t have been any neglect involved here now could there? NAW!

Later on the fella working at the Quickie Lube place came in and began running through the issues with “Mr. Hollywood’s” car. I overheard enough to know there was virtually no coolant in the radiator (not the reserve tank but the radiator itself) and the oil level didn’t even register on the dipstick (the one in the car).

Does that not tell you all you need to know!?

Folks, if your thinking of keeping bees please take stock of the time commitment it requires. Read, read, read and learn about what you are committing to before you jump in. Don’t be this guy.

A few years ago I was at a local bee club meeting and the old timers were expressing concern over all the folks jumping into beekeeping. While they wanted to see more people keeping bees they were concerned it was a fad and that the resulting abandoned hives would soon die out and be left sitting abandoned in a backyard somewhere. The problem with that is it wont be long before other bees find the hives and begin to rob them. If disease was the reason the hives died out, its likely the disease would be transmitted back to healthy hives simply because the “fad owner” couldn’t be bothered to be responsible with the care of his bees or even the removal of the deadout hives.

As much as I want to see more folks involved with bees, please take stock of what it takes to be actively involved in the management of your bees. If your honest with yourself and realize you cannot commit the time required then don’t get them. Our bee populations have enough issues to deal with. On the other hand, if you don’t have the time required to responsibly manage your bees, find someone who is looking for another beeyard and let them hive bees on your place. You’ll get some honey out of the deal but wont have to commit to the time and work required to properly care for your bees.

For the bees sake, don’t bee Mr. Hollywood.

In the more down to earth world of bee keeping, I’ve just about finished the harvest of my first two honey supers for a total of 4 gallons of the best honey around! I say that because it is chemical free and the bees draw from so many sources of nectar around our place that the result is the most unique blend of flavors you can imagine. The process I use to extract the honey is called crush and strain. No heat is used and no filtering to remove the pollen takes. Many people don’t realize both of these actions occur with commercial honey. Some where down the line I will try to find time to cover just what crush and strain is. There is no need to buy that $400+ extractor to get the honey your bees make for you. Until then enjoy your summer and remember – Don’t Bee That Guy described in this article.

The Queen of Hearts, Hives and Frustration

What a terrific weekend we had at the Meadow of Lavender in Colton Oregon this weekend for the Oregon Lavender Festival. There was an excellent turnout and I’m sure everyone enjoyed themselves as they learned about the lavender products and how they are made. We also had excellent attendance at the bee classes I held and in each class people suited up in the spare bee suits that were available and had a look in the hives for themselves. My thanks to all those who attended.

In the first class the attendees had the opportunity to see first hand how a hive requeens itself in a process called supercedure. At the bottom of one of the frames we removed from the hive were two queen cells, about four inches apart. One cell was opened at the very bottom, the other was opened from the side. The first cell was the one the queen hatched from. When a new queen hatches the first thing she does is dispatch with any other queens in the hive. The other queen cell demonstrated how that is done. The new queen chews through the side of the cell and stings to death the queen that has yet to hatch.

After looking the queen cells over and discussing what happened we continued our inspection of the hive and found lots of newly laid eggs and tiny larvae. Though we did not see the queen herself, it was apparent she has been very busy since hatching and completing her mating flights.

This brings me to the point of this post. There has been a lot of trouble with queen failure this year. This is an issue that has been building for the past number of season and appears to have finally landed with a crash this year. In reading the various forums it appears to be a fairly widespread occurrence. My own experience with this has even been greater than most are reporting. In April I purchased 9 new packages of bees. Six of nine packages, have lost queens, some more than once, as in the hive we inspected in class. The queens that came with the packages are soon replaced and then the new queen fails and is replaced again. This leads to weak hives and I am about to lose one of my new hives because they have grown weak and failed to raise a new queen.

Of course there are a number of different view points, but one that makes a lot of sense has to do the problems queen producers have had with insect growth regulators that have been put on during the bloom with fungicides, mostly in California. All of my packages came from California so I don’t believe its a coincidence my new packages are failing. There can also be a lack of genetics and diverse drone sources in the large commercial producers that contribute to the problem.

With nearly $100 dollars invested in each package I have reached the conclusion it is no longer feasible to purchase commercially available packages. If you are considering acquiring bees next season I would recommend against using a commercial outlet to get your bees. There is simply too much at risk and if your just starting out who wants the trouble and disappointment of losing hives. Many newbees would be left thinking it was something they did. As I stated in my classes this last weekend, I am interested in new beeks (beekeepers) having success, therefore, after having lost nearly 70 percent of the queens that came in the new packages I purchased this year I can only suggest that you avoid the commercial outlets. I mean really – who wants to spend all the money it takes to set up new hives and acquire the equipment you need, just to get inferior bees that don’t have a good chance of making it.

So what’s the alternative? Go with locally produced nucs. Nuc is short for nucleus hive. Normally you get four frames of bees and a frame of stores, but the fours nucs that a friend and I purchased this year came stuffed with five full frames of bees. All four are doing well and have not experience the requeening/supercedure issues that the packages have experienced. The advantage of a nuc is that you have a queen who has been laying and producing for weeks, if not months, before you purchase it. This miniature hive is established and well on its way with a queen that has proven she is healthy. Yes, nucs often cost a bit more, but the premium you pay is well worth it if you are getting a healthy queen instead of a poor commercially produced queen that will be replaced nearly as soon as you put her in the hive.

So if you are looking at beginning beekeeping next season or if you want to add to the hive or hives you already have, now is the time to begin to locate local beeks that will have nucs to sell next season. Find out about their practices and the success rate of their nucs. Get to know them and their products. Ultimately you should come out far ahead with a nuc over a package of bees.

And for you beeks with a season or two under your belts, learn to split your own hives and make your own increase. Splitting a hive is not difficult and far less expensive. If you have yet to do it, then consider it your next step along the path of beekeeping.

Until next time my best to all of you and may you only know the queen of hearts when it comes to your own hives.

Meadow of Lavender link – http://meadowoflavender.com/