Hello friends. I wanted to take a moment to share the past few months with you. Life has thrown us an unexpected curve. We lost my Dad of 28 years unexpectedly this summer after dealing with some things since spring. It threw us all into a tail spin and all of us went into survival mode. It was a loss that rippled across all of our lives and the most difficult of all was watching my children have to suffer as they did. Their hearts were broken and mine broke even more than I though possible watching my own children learn how to grieve and rebound from loss.
I’m now headed into my 5th year of beekeeping. Today I wanted to share some of my favorite beekeeping tips. Over the years, I’ve learned quite a lot and have had plenty of successes and failures. Some of those were expected and some of those were unexpected. That seems to be the course for keeping bees nowadays. These days it’s not an easy venture, as so many things can affect what happens inside the hive. Today, I thought it would be good to share my top beekeeping tips that I think every newbie should tuck in their back pocket. These tips range from keeping the hives healthy, saving money and learning how to help amazing insects.
Earlier this fall I learned that one of my weaker beehives had succumb to wax moths.
It was awful and disgusting. So I removed some of the salvageable frames that I could and cleaned them up as best I could. I placed them into the deeps and put them off to the side- outside near the garden shed. I wanted them to air out, freeze any remaining larvae, and give them time before I placed them in the shed.
As beekeepers, there come times when we need to feed our bees or offer them up reserves to help them get through dearths and winter. New colonies should be fed so that they can quickly build out new comb for the queen to lay and for them to store their foraged pollen and nectar. Existing colonies also require feeding, especially a back up method to help ensure their winter survival. Today I thought that I would place these all recipes in one place for you to easily find them.
This week is the peak of lavender season here at Tilly’s Nest. Lavender and bees go hand in hand.
Today I learned how to catch a honeybee swarm. I keep two beehives across town at my Mom’s house. Her father was a beekeeper so when I asked about keeping a couple of hives at her place, she and my step-dad were quite supportive of the idea. It reminded her of growing up as a little girl. For the past 3 years, two of my hives have lived at my Mom’s.
Earlier this week I accompanied the kids on a school field trip to the Museum of Science in Boston. We reached a point where a woman was giving a demonstration on electricity and electromagnetic currents. One by one as each of the kids in my group took turns placing their hands upon this large metal sphere and watching their hairs stand on end, I could not help but notice an exhibit just inches away from where I was standing.
|The honeybees cluster in a ball for warmth in the winter. The queen is in the very center, kept toasty at 95 degrees. The cluster expands and moves during warmer days and contracts tightly and stays put in freezing temps.|
Last week it was a balmy day in December, 50 degrees. Weird for us, but the bees were happy and flying outside the hive. They were taking cleansing flights and exploring a bit around the yard. I found a few perched on the birdbath taking in a bit of water. It was the perfect day to go in and check on their sugar supplies that I had added to the hive only a couple of months ago. I was curious what the winter honeybee cluster would look like.
|Burning frames filled with wax moth eggs and larvae.|
I watched one of my beehives die this past Thursday. Wax moths moved into the hive.
Someone must have sprayed their blooming plants. The plants were full of blossoms and my unsuspecting bees went. They drank the nectar and shared the bounty and location with the rest of the hive. There I sat in front of it, watching dying bees literally fall out. I sat there until dusk. Hundreds were dead. Some barely still alive in the pile outside the hive. There was nothing I could do but sit there and pray for them to be out of their misery quickly. I am hoping that none of the other hives went to that location. In nursing, I’ve seen many terrible things that have left a mark on my memory and heart that I can never forget even if I wanted to. Thursday, was another one of those days.