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Monday, September 3, 2012

Beekeeping at the Nickel and Dime Ranch

A year ago I finished a beekeeping class taught by Meg, our local master beekeeper. The bees at Meg's place make honey so well that she has a booth at the Mora Farmers' Market where she sits with jars of honey labeled with each purchaser's name. Each week folks give Meg their names which she writes down in her little notebook. The following week they pick up their freshly harvested honey. Meg spends much of her time at the market explaining why there are names on the honey jars. "I never heard of Rosalita honey," someone said a couple weeks ago.

Meg, teaching her class last year.
A little over a month ago a gift of two colonies of bees came home. Paul, a local beekeeper, shepherd and carpenter, made two snug top bar hives to hold them and we moved the bees into their new homes. So far, they love their new digs and are busy making more bees and more honey to fill up the space inside the hives.

This morning I wanted to check the hives to see how the ladies are doing and to bring them some "bee tea," a combination of sugar water, mint and herbs that helps to build up their colony to a good size before cold weather hits.

It was a cloudy day, but the ladies needed their tea, so I soldiered on.


I fired up the smoker, used to calm the bees. The smoke masks the alarm pheromones bees send out when they are feeling defensive or if a bee is injured. That way no one knows what the heck is going on and they can go about their business. At least that's how it works in theory. Every beekeeping day is different, I am learning. Well, even each hive is different, too.

 Below is the smoker, opened, with the fuel beginning to smolder. And yep, that's a pile of dried manure next to the smoker. That's the fuel. I really smell great after beekeeping, just so you know.


The hives are trapezoidal, with bars across the top for the bees to build their combs. Paul adds a roof to further keep out the elements.

Here the roof is ajar so you can see the ends of the bars. There are about 24 bars in this hive and 15 are filled so far. On the bottom right of the hive is the entrance where the bees go in and out. It's a small entrance designed for easy guarding. There are guard bees stationed inside to repel intruders.


I was excited to see that the bees are building new comb, laying eggs and making honey.

Here is a shot of the new comb being built, but decided I wasn't brave enough to continue taking photos as we got closer inside. New beekeepers probably shouldn't multitask.


I also finally found the queen, who was busily laying eggs, her attendants faithfully following.

Then the weather got close, the atmospheric pressure changed, and the bees in the second hive were cranky. So I switched out their empty bee tea jars for some full ones and got the heck out of Dodge. I learn a little something every day. Today it was get out while the gettin's good.

1 comment:

  1. I love your adventures! I especially love reading them... rather than first hand experiencing them... better you than me. Thank you!
    Hugs

    ReplyDelete

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