Tag Archives: honeybees

Winter Prep/Classes

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Are your bees snuggled into their hives with plenty of stores to see them through the winter?  Do you have a healthy queen with a small, but solid brood pattern?  Do you have some weak hives that might not make it through the winter?

These are things you need to be looking for as the winter storms begin to roll in.  Weak hives can be combined to make one strong hive.  You might even add some honey frames that you have saved back, or take them from strong hives that can spare them so other strong hives that need a boost in stores have what they need to get through the winter.

A good wind break is always helpful and some people wrap their hives with tar paper, but if you do, be careful not to close them up so tight they don’t breath and don’t make the mistake of closing up your hives so the bees cant get out for cleansing flights.  As your bees burn through their honey they will produce moisture that condenses on the inside of the hive.  You do not want this dripping down on the bees as it will kill them.  A simple solution is to slide a small piece of wood 3/4 of an inch thick or so (but no larger than an inch think) under the back of the hive so the moisture that collects inside will run to the front and down the front wall of the hive.  Also make sure you have your mouse guards in place.  Mice can quickly make a mess of any hive.

Here are some interesting temperature guidelines for different bee activities.

  • 93-94 brood nest temp for eggs and young bees
  • 68 queen does not fly
  • 61 drones cannot fly
  • 57 the winter cluster forms
  • 50 workers cannot fly
  • 40 bees die if alone

I’ve been busy preparing for the classes I will teach beginning this January.  They will encompass a full season of beekeeping.  For the local folk out there who have been following along, if you are interested in taking these classes please contact me at – whalersman@gmail.com

We will begin with the basics and later move into the more complex.  Classes will be held near one of my bee yards so you can get hands on experience and learn how to do a hive inspection and gain an understand what you are looking at.

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Winter Hive Prep.

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Winter’s not here yet, but it is time to think about preparing your hives for winter here in the high desert of Central Oregon.  If you have staggered the hive boxes to help with summer ventilation, such as in the picture above, its time to close them up if you have not already done so.

Most importantly its time for a hive check to see if your bees have enough stores for winter.  Big strong hives will have put away plenty of extra honey making it possible for you to share in the bounty.  BUT WAIT!  Check your other hives first.  If you have made some late season splits or simply have a hive that has not done as well as you would hope, pull some frames of honey from the strong hives and share it with the weaker hives.  That way everyone is set for winter.

If your hives are low on stores and you need to feed, you want to feed a 2 to 1 mixture of sugar and water.  Two parts sugar to one part water.  Takes lots of stirring and hot water!

This is also the time of year the mite populations peak.  Do a mite count and see how your hives are doing.  One way to do a mite count is with a powdered sugar roll.  Collect one cup of bees and add them to a pint jar that is then capped with a screened lid.  Through the screen add a heaping tablespoon of powdered sugar.  Roll the jar to coat the bees and then let the jar sit for one minute.  After a minute, take the jar and shake out the powdered sugar (and mites) into a pan with a very shallow layer of water.  The water will melt the powdered sugar and reveal the mites.  Count your mites.

There is about 300 bees in a cup and you divide your mite count by 3 to get mites per 100 bees – or a percentage.  Anything over 5 percent and you may want to treat.  If you have been following along with my blog you know we don’t use chemical miticides in our hives.  Instead we create brood breaks to control mites and use essential oils.  If you must use a miticide, I suppose the Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) would be a choice to make as they are an organic acid that is corrosive, not toxic, thereby killing the mites physically and giving them little chance to build resistance.  Beware though!  A respirator is suggested use when applying this treatment and you would not want to apply the MAQS when temps are expected above 85 or you may harm the queen.  MAQS are effective but they are expensive and somewhat hazardous to apply.

If you prefer a softer, natural approach, use food grade organic essential oils.  Its not a silver bullet and not an immediate kill like the MAQS, but it is organic and will help to control your mites.  To make a concentrate, add 1 teaspoon of Wintergreen oil, 3/4 teaspoon Tea tree oil, a few drops of spearmint and a few drops of lemongrass oil to one cup of water in a blender and run on low for five minutes.  When done add this to a half gallon jar of water.  This is your concentrate.  When you feed this to the bees you add one cup of the concentrate to one gallon of 2 to 1 feed.

If your creating brood breaks during the season and following up with essential oils, you will lose very few hives to mites without using chemicals.

Help Your Bees Beat the Summer Heat

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Today’s temp. will near 100 degrees.  Now I know for a lot of you that may not be a big deal as you’ve probably already seen temps like that this year, but in Central Oregon this is our first real wave of hot weather this year.  So here’s a little trick to help your bees deal with the heat.

Naturally you always want to have a good source of water nearby.  The next thing you can do is to push back the top box on your hives to create a top entrance for the bees.  This helps air flow through the hives and improves ventilation.  That means more bees working to store honey and fewer bees working to cool the hive.

Secondly, a top entrance makes it easier for the bees to access the upper boxes.  By this time of year the lower boxes are filling with brood and when the field bees come into the bottom of the hive they must struggle against a hive full of bees to get to the top boxes.  Often times they will store the pollen and nectar they carry in the brood nest at the bottom of the hive and force the queen to move further up into the hive as she runs out of room to lay her eggs in the brood nest.

Consequently a lot of people put on queen excluders to keep the brood our of their honey boxes.  I’ve never used queen excluders and have found no need to do so as long as I open up the top of the hive like you see in the pictures.

So do your bees a favor and give them a little air conditioning.  It’s easier on the bees and they will reward you with beautiful clear honey.

So You Want to Bee a Beekeeper

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So You Want to Bee a Beekeeper

As I sit down to write this article the thermometer reads just one degree.  Last night’s low was 3 degrees and tonight it’s supposed to be a few degrees below zero.  I can’t help thinking of my girls outside in their hives, shivering their wings to maintain a temperature of about ninety degrees within their cluster.

They are amazing little creatures and all of them have already survived temperatures of minus 17 degrees this winter.  How do I know they survived?  During a break in the winter weather I saw bees flying from most of the hives, while others were visiting the dog’s water dish.  What about the hives that had little or no activity?  A simple test can give you a good read on what’s going on inside without opening the hive, which you do not want to do in the dead of winter.  I put my ear to the side of the hive and listened for a familiar buzz.  The three hives that were less active all had a nice buzz to them.

You might think that January is a little early to be thinking about taking up beekeeping, so it may surprise you if I said you might be a year behind.  Beekeeping is becoming more popular all the time, but long term success has not been the result and many abandon the hobby after only a few years.  So contrary to the many articles you can read that encourage you to jump right in, I hope, not so much to discourage you, but to help you make an educated decision about whether beekeeping is right for you or not.  Would you make a good beekeeper?

Let me ask you some questions first.

1) How much reading have you done?  You may be surprised at how much you really don’t understand about bee culture and how the hives function.  Do your homework.

2) Have you spent any time with a local beekeeper, inspecting hives and learning from someone with experience, and yes, even getting stung?  Find a mentor that is successful with his/her own bees.

3) What is your goal?  One or two hives for the joy of having them, for pollination of your garden and sharing in a little raw honey, or maybe just for the simple relaxation of spending time with your girls?  Or possibly getting the feel of things and then going whole hog?

4) Have you figured your start up costs?  How about the time commitment?  Type of equipment? Read.

5) Have you considered the type of hive you want?  Langstroth, Top-bar, Warre, Other?

6) Packages or Nucs?

7) Know you’re zoning laws.  Are you allowed to keep bees?  What about your neighbors?  Did I mention read?

8) How much time are you willing to commit to your new hobby?

My point is this.  Beekeeping has become a very popular pass time, but paralleling its popularity has been a corresponding rate of failure and hive abandonment.  More beekeepers experiencing long term success would be good for our honeybees.  Numerous failed hives abandoned in people’s backyards is not a good thing for our honeybees.  Some of those hives are dead because they were diseased and when left abandoned, the disease can quickly be spread to other healthy hives when bees that come to rob the honey bring the disease home with them.

As much as I love to see new folks experience the joy associated with keeping bees, our honeybees have enough issues facing them.  It would be irresponsible of me to tell you to just go for it without addressing some of the key components you must consider if you want to avoid the majority of new beekeepers who abandon the hobby just a few years down the road.

So let’s begin.  Lets first memorize the two most important rules of beekeeping:

Rule 1)  There are Absolutely No Absolutes when it comes to beekeeping.  You will find divergent viewpoints on every single aspect of beekeeping.  You must decide for yourself what is right for you and your bees and then diligently pursue your chosen course.   (see item number one above)

Rule 2)  Maintain some perspective.  You are going to experience failures along with your success.  Failures are not the end of the world unless you throw up your hands and refuse to learn from them.  An easy going attitude that brings a calm, relaxed manner to your beekeeping will be appreciated by your bees and your spouse as well.  If you simply must worry about something, then worry about something constructive, like a solution to rid us of those malicious parasites that cause more problems and losses than all others……No, not mites.  Politicians!

Here in early January it may surprise you to think the queen bees in those hives are also gearing up for spring.  You see it won’t be long before the queen begins to lay again.  She’s been taking a few weeks of well deserved rest after eleven months of laying eggs.  But just as she begins to slow her egg laying after the summer solstice (longest day), she soon begins laying eggs again not long after winters shortest day, (between December twenty first and twenty second) when we experience the shortest day and longest night.

So like I said, it might be just one degree outside on this first day of January, but if you’re going to keep bees this year you might already be late for the party unless you really get to crackin!

When starting out you are going to be faced with two decisions that will direct the majority of your actions when purchasing equipment and more specifically, how you intend to manage your bees.  If you have been doing the reading you need to do to prepare yourself, you already know about the discussion concerning various types of foundation, small cell or even foundationless.  The details of that discussion are outside the scope of this article though we will touch on some aspects of it when discussing equipment.  The type of hive and frames you decide to use direct your purchase of equipment.  This is where going to the field with a mentor pays big dividends.

The second decision you must make is if you are going to use chemicals in your hives to treat for mites and disease or if you are going to manage for these issues without the use of chemicals.  Once again, read, read, read and spend time in the field with a mentor who manages his bees in the same manner you would want to manage your own.

So Let’s Get Started – Where To Site your Bees

If you have checked to make sure local regulations allow you to keep bees (I had to petition city hall and work through the process to get our local regulations changed to allow bees to be kept within city limits), most likely you will have found you need a six foot fence around your hives to raise the bees flight path above head level.  Some people also use sheds, stacked firewood and vegetation to accomplish this.

Next you will want to locate your bee hives so they receive the morning sun to warm them.  Mid to late day dappled shade can be nice for those blistering hot summer days but is not required.  Finally you will need to provide a source of water near the hives if you don’t want your bees visiting the neighbor’s hot tub or child’s wading pool.  (I use a 3 x 5 tub about six inches deep with rocks for them to land on because bees can’t swim)

Basic Equipment

  • A smoker, hive tool, bee brush and a pair of boots that will keep the bees out is a good place to start. You may want some other hand tools as well but it’s not necessary to purchase the “kits” put together for beginners as they usually include a fair amount of equipment you don’t need.
  • Hive boxes
  • Frames and foundation. I suggest avoiding plastic frames. Bees prefer wax foundation or no foundation at all. Most foundation comes imprinted with a pattern that matches the cells the bees will build their comb on. If you go the foundationless route, the bees will build their own comb without following a predetermined pattern.
  • A bee suit and gloves. Don’t be intimidated by the numerous video’s you find on the web showing people inspecting a hive with nothing on but a veil, t-shirt and shorts. This is not about being macho. Wear what makes you comfortable so you can calmly spend time with your bees without being nervous. You want to practice slow, fluid movements that are least likely to disturb your bees.
  • A stand that keeps your hives off the ground. Two 2×6’s spaced and nailed together at a width that accommodates the bottom board of your hive and some cinder blocks to set it upon make a simple and cost effective hive stand.
  • A gallon of paint or natural sealant. White is the customary color and it helps to prevent the hives from overheating in the summer.

Most beekeepers order pre-cut frame and hive components that are easily assembled at home with glue and nails.  I do not recommend buying used hive components unless it’s from a trusted source.  (Remember that mentor I’ve mentioned)  You can find used smokers and bee suits but don’t skimp on the hive and frames.  Used hives, frames and the comb that comes with them can contain disease.

What does all this cost.  You can expect to spend $500 to $600 for two hives and a weekend assembling it all.

Getting Your Bees

One of the main reasons a new beekeeper needs to plan ahead is the need to order bees early.  Last summer I ran into two people who were ready and anxious to begin beekeeping.  They set up their hives, prepared a water source and then found out they could not get the bees they needed.

Beekeeping is no longer just for the farmer or other rural folk as more and more urbanites have come to enjoy the hobby.  Therefore you will want to order your bees early because demand can outstrip supply.  If you have already been working with a mentor it is likely they will be a good source for your bees.  If you need to purchase your bees from a supplier NOW is the time to get on board with them and place your order, or at least find out when they will begin taking orders.

You will want to look into suppliers who offer bees bred for “Hygienic behavior.”  This is a trait that helps bees to naturally control mites.

Prior to ordering you will need to decide if you want to begin with a Nuc (short for nucleus hive) or a package.  Nucs come in a small box, normally with four or five frames, a laying queen, drawn out comb containing eggs and capped brood and plenty of worker bees.

A 3 pound package of bees will contain approximately 12,000 workers and a queen that comes in a small cage you install in the hive.  The bees will release the queen in a few short days after she is installed.  With a package all you get are the bees.  There is no drawn comb containing eggs and larva.  Both approaches work well, but I like the package approach for beginners because they get to see the bees build comb and the queen begin laying eggs.  Observing this process helps to train the new beekeepers eye to recognize eggs, larva, capped worker brood/drone brood and stores the bees put away.

Beginning with at least two hives will allow the beginner to compare hives and see how one is progressing compared to the other.  Or in the case you lose a hive (it happens) you are not without bees.

What will your bees cost?  (This is in addition to the cost for hives and equipment) Depending on where you live, Nucs sell for $100 to $125 and packages will go for $85 to $100.  Your total layout after purchasing bees now comes to at least $700 to $800.

Time Commitment

A few years back it was all the rage for urbanites to have a few backyard chickens.  It seemed simple enough.  Keep a few chickens and have your own farm fresh eggs.  Some people did stay with it, but it wasn’t long before things like cleaning the coop, raising replacement birds and all the other things that were not considered, left a lot of empty coops sitting in people’s backyards.  Craigslist was full of advertisements for equipment and chicken coops for sale.

The intent of this article is not to discourage you from taking up beekeeping but to spur a little thinking about your own commitment to this hobby.  It’s why reading and spending time with a mentor are so highly recommended.

Many of the books out there will tell you not to open and disturb the hive very often, but just how are you supposed to learn if you don’t?  For a person brand new to beekeeping I would suggest a hive inspection every week to ten days so you can train your eye and understand what you are looking at.  Are you willing to make that kind of time commitment?  For some that will be a challenge, yet for others, they won’t be able to wait until they can return to the hive and see what “their girls” have been up to.   It is my hope you are part of the latter group.

Honeybee Headlines

Honeybee stories are familiar headlines to most.  Colony Collapse Disorder has brought them to our attention and so has the important role bees play in the pollination of much of the food we eat.  If you educate and prepare yourself well, you can contribute to a healthy population of honeybees.  The bees owned by most hobby beekeepers do not get the same exposure to toxic chemicals like those of commercial beekeepers.  There are even reports that loses for involved, proactive, small scale beekeepers are less than those of commercial beekeepers.

This article just scratches the surface.  Remember what I said about reading?  But a person must also get their hands dirty to avoid paralysis by analysis.  It is hoped the information provided here will help you determine if you are ready to make the commitment it takes to become a successful beekeeper.

To further assist you in your beekeeping efforts I will be blogging a season of beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest.  So please check back for updates as the season progresses and we will discuss the various issues that come up over the course of the season.

In the mean time, locate a local beekeeper and inquire about their practices.  Most beekeepers love to share what they have learned about their craft and will welcome you with open arms.  Find a mentor if you have not already done so and tell him/her of your desire to get started with your own hives.  If you are going to keep bees this summer, do not wait to get started.  Now is the time, even if the temperature is hovering just above zero outside.

RESOURCES  

The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum (One of the best in my opinion)

Beekeeping for Dummies  (Other books often overlook some of the very basic questions the newbie has)

The Beekeepers Handbook

Bee Culture – is an excellent magazine you can subscribe to.

SUPPLIERS  (Include but are not limited to)

Mann Lake

Walter T. Kelly Co.

Brushy Mountain Bee Farm

Betterbee

Dadant and Sons

Ruhl Bee Supply

Glory Bee Foods

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.

 

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.