Digressing to beekeeping

Last spring, some friends and I began our adventures with keeping honeybees. I’m not sure we realized how much there was to learn. Among the things I’ve learned:

  • I learned that my husband refuses to go anywhere near the hives, leaving any tree trimming or weed eating to me.
  • Our blond child both is capable of and enjoys sitting on an upended bucket directly in front of the hive, allowing bees to land on her and petting them. Yes, you can pet honeybees. She has yet to be stung.
  • Our friend’s toddler, at 2, wears a veil, but is also one who can “resonate” with the bees. He’s fascinated, and they seem to realize that he’s harmless, as well.
  • Toolman, who used to refuse to go anywhere near the hives, will now walk part way to them to ask questions, instead of just shouting the question. He still isn’t crazy about the bees, but isn’t quite so flipped out by them anymore.
  • Honeybees can survive winters that are harsh, but can also be brought down by small beetles.
  • Once you learn to recognize a queen bee, you can often find her almost instantly when she’s on a “frame.”
  • It baffled me this spring when we opened my remaining hive and realized that they used almost every cell of the honey that they stored last summer and fall. Reaffirmed the decision to not harvest much last year.

There are likely a thousand more tidbits that rattle around in our heads. This spring has been especially good for raising bees, and I’m now up to three hives from the single remaining colony. Many beekeepers will tell you that this is fantastic thing. As a result, I’m scrambling to “build” (read: assemble) several more bits of their colonies, because they’re needing additions to their homes almost every two weeks! Rainy days like today are great for this. Its entertaining, for the most part….although I’ve decided that running the wire (which supports the beeswax and honey and can get really heavy!) is absolutely my least favorite part.

Anyway, enough rambling. Thought I’d give you a “guided” tour of parts of a hive.

 

Assembling a deep super to add to one of the colonies.

Assembling a deep super to add to one of the colonies.

The current bane of my existence - wire for the frames.

The current bane of my existence – wire for the frames.

This little gizmo was my Great-Grandfather's and presses the wire into the foundation wax, giving it support in the heat of summer.

This little gizmo was my Great-Grandfather’s and presses the wire into the foundation wax, giving it support in the heat of summer.

Foundation wax gives the bees a starting point or template for making their honeycomb

Foundation wax gives the bees a starting point or template for making their honeycomb

Super dark honey from the end of the season, in newly drawn comb

Super dark honey from the end of the season, in newly drawn comb

Honeybee resting on a blade of grass

Honeybee resting on a blade of grass

Playing with some macro photography

Playing with some macro photography

Holding a bee

Holding a bee