Always keen on trying out new pursuits in life, it was just a matter of time until apiculture was on the agenda. Many who know me are surprised, given my distaste (for lack of a better word) of bugs, but these little girls (and their drones) are just lovely! With hopes of harvesting honey, all the while helping the environment, the adventure begins! So along with my cohorts at Ekebo we have set up our hives and are learning all about what we can do for the bees, as well as what they can do for us.
Enlightening is the word I would use to describe apiculture. There is simply so much to learn about how bees do what they do. A little overwhelming at first when you are reading about it, but once you have your own bee colony to follow and learn with, you simply go day by day. The bee gang at Ekebo consists of new beginners, a few who have taken beekeeping courses, and some who have some solid experience to help us all out. I can not imagine a better way to dive in.
After recently acquiring our beehives and their inhabitants, last week we had the chance to introduce ourselves for the first time. The bees had been on site for over a week and seemed to have settled in after the move, so now it was time to open the hives. It was a hot sunny day, and after prepping honey supers for the hives (wiring, crimping and adding wax foundation) we donned our suits. With my GoPro around my neck to document the occasion, we lit our smokers and took off the lid. One of my biggest concerns (considering the plan to be able to do this with the children) was that we had docile, friendly bees. Different races of bees can be more hostile than others – ours are Krainer/Carniolan bees. With a few puffs of smoke to calm them and have them move lower into the hive, we pried up each and every frame looking to understand the state of the hive. An unbelievable society to peer into, they did not seem to mind being looked at, as they just kept on working the entire time. Little bee butts sticking out of the comb, bright orange nectar, glistening honey, fat little larvae being nursed and a smell that was intoxicating! Busy bees at work, we looked and found all of the signs of a well functioning hive, and best of all they were friendly. A little tidying to keep pathways clear, and with the advice of the more experienced beekeepers, we found the queen, spotted a few drones and closed the hive up to let them do their work in privacy. I am already looking forward to next weeks inspection! This time with the children. We can hardly wait for the honey, some already earmarked to friends and of course we are planning on brewing mead. The beeswax, well you just know I have plans for that as well!
For a first hand view of the hive in action, take a look at this video I took trying to find the queen 🙂
… and below you can see images of the process of prepping the supers.