Sam and I headed over to the farm early this morning to check on my bees. With temperatures hitting close to 100, we needed to get there early.One of the first things I do when I get to the farm is start my smoker. I have not mastered this skill yet. The goal is to get the smoker burning quick, then allow it to sit in order to come to a smolder where there is cool white smoke. You don't want to burn the bees with hot smoke. I can get it flaming with pine needles and sticks, but I don't know how to keep it going for the whole time I'm at the hives. /As the smoker begins to cool down, I put on my suit and start taking supplies to the hives. I really need a wagon so I don't have to take two trips from the barn to the hives. When I approach the hives, I take a minute to see how the bees are acting. Is there activity at the entrance? Are the girls agitated or calm? I enjoy watching them come in and out of the hive. Do you see the bees with large yellow and orange sacks? Those bees are coming back from foraging and those are pockets filled with pollen! The bees land on a flower and cover their furry little head with pollen. Then they take their front legs to scrape the pollen into those sacks. Looking at the different colors, I wonder what flowers they went to.
When I take the top cover off, I look for any critters that shouldn't be there, like these hive beetles. They are such a nuisance! These little pests have a hard shell and are able to skitter away from the bees who are trying to kill them. This is a view of the bottom of the feeding tray. The beetles run out of the light to any crevice or corner they can find. The problem is that they make a huge mess defecting and disturbing the hygienics of the hive. They can cause a whole colony to collapse.So as a good beekeeper, I have put in chemical free traps. The top one is a 5X5 inch sheet that the bees sort of fluff up and then the beetles become entrapped. The bottom pic shows a trap with vegetable oil in it. It hangs on the frame, so when the bees chase the beetles, hopefully the beetles will fall through the opening into the oil. Neither of these are actually stopping the beetles from entering in the first place, but they are getting a few who get in my hives. This shows the traps in action.And when I see any running around I try to smoosh them with my hive tool!A hive tool is a beek's best friend. ("Beek" is short for beekeeper.😊) So now I want to look at some frames and make sure eggs are being laid and honey is being made. The supers or boxes become glued together by propolis and must be pried open. I use my handy dandy hive tool! Look how pretty they are!The reddish-orange stuff above is propolis, not to be confused with beeswax. The bees use this sticky substance to fill in any holes or gaps. The girls are amazing housekeepers. They keep their hive nice and tidy. If there is a space where an intruder can get in, they will seal it up!The top super is filled with honey…glorious, beautiful honey. This will be the hive's food for the winter, so I won't harvest any of this liquid gold. Do you see in the upper portion of the frame where they are capping the honey cells? This will keep the honey from dripping out until they already to use it.Here is a frame from the bottom box, called the brood box. This is where the queen lays all of her eggs. Do you see inside those cells in the bottom right? Those are the larva. The workers will feed them and then place a cap over their cell. When the babies are ready to hatch, they will break out of the cell and then immediately begin working! As a beekeeper, you want to do as little to intrude on the hive as possible. But as I was about to put the last super on the hive, I wanted to hold a few barehanded. Honeybees are very docile and not prone to attack. Of course here are those that are swarming or have been agitated by something and want to protect their hive, but today my girls were very calm. I had a good feeling about them, so I took off my gloves and gently picked a few up. It was so cool.Ok, ok, enough playing around. It's time to close things up. The last thing I do is fill the feeding tray with sugar water. Many have asked me why I do this. Doesn't this make the bees dependent on you? Can't they take care of themselves without your help?
Well, yes and no. You see, when I decided to become a beekeeper, I chose to take care of my bees the best way I know how. Yes, the bees find the pollen and make their own honey. But I have a young hive. It has been working very hard to build its home from scratch. It takes so much energy to build the comb for the eggs, larvae and honey. The summer can be a time of dearth, which is when there is a lack of food sources for the bees. So that's where I come in to help them out. I won't have to do this forever. It's just to help them out. A strong hive is able to combat infestations and diseases better than a struggling, weak colony.So there you go! I'm a big hot sweaty mess and I LOVE IT! ❤️🐝🐝🐝
Thanks for buzzing by!