Blogging About My Adventures as a New Backyard Beekeeper

Sweet Rewards July 22, 2011

Filed under: Bee Package,beehive,Beekeeping,Honey — beekeepingbug @ 3:01 pm

Hello Everyone!

It’s been quite some time since I last posted, but that is because there has not been much to report. Mine and my mother’s hives have been what honey bees do best–be busy and make honey. We have been extremely lucky thus far. We have heard so many horror stories of first year hives succumbing to the (almost) inevitable swarming in the Spring, not long after establishment. Many first year hives this year have also been plagued with queen issues–the queen that came with the original package was superceded, which interrupts the brood process by several weeks.

Somehow, with a bit of luck, our hives have avoided such issues (knock on wood) and have been busy making babies and honey. There is constantly a swarm of new bees taking orientation flights and older bees zipping in and out with goods from the field.

Now, for the good part. My mother and I were consistantly told not to expect honey from our first year hives. First year hives are several months behind in brood and honey production than over-wintered hives and generally make just enough honey to make it through their first winter. However, again by sheer luck, our hives have produced enough honey that we get to take some spoils from our new hobby ūüôā

Three weeks ago, the previous hive inspection we performed, my mother and I were a bit overwhelmed by all the burr-comb and honey and sticky mess in our hives. We took too long cleaning house and the bees got agitated so we couldn’t finish. So, we invited our fantastic bee teacher over to show us some tips and tricks and offer insight as to how our hives are doing. As soon as we pried the top off of my hive this week, he said my hive was honey-bound, had no room, and we needed to remove some honey ASAP. Well, that was just music to my ears! I haven’t stopped smiling since! We removed 5 frames (about 20LBS) from my hive. We could have taken more, but not surprisingly, the bees got quite agitated.

We didn’t have time to go into my mother’s hive that night, but with the great tips and tricks our teacher showed us, my mother had enough confidence to inspect her hive solo (my father supervised from the safety of the window, so she wasn’t completely alone¬†with the¬†agitated bees!) She managed to get two bulging frames of honey, which add about 10 LBS to our total. Right now, we are waiting for the chance to extract and bottle the honey, which will hopefully take place next week!

I will most definitely take pictures of the extraction and bottling process, so look out for that!

Until then,



Day One-Installing the Bees April 26, 2011

Filed under: apiary,Bee Package,beehive,Beekeeping,Queen Bee,Uncategorized — beekeepingbug @ 8:25 pm

So the day has finally arrived! My mother and I drove up to NH to pick up our bees on Tuesday, 4/26. The apiary we ordered the bees from was in a surprisingly residential area. The apiary was run out of someone’s driveway/garage. We paid for the bees in the garage and picked up our 2 bee packages (two of hundreds) in the driveway.

We loaded the bee packages into the back of the car and drove home. Even though there were several homeless honey bees clinging to the outside of the packages (probably since they were loaded in Georgia), there were no problems with loose bees flying around the car. These loose bees are referred to as hobos.

When we got back to the house, we gathered all of our supplies near the beehives and got to work pouring the bees into the hives. Someone recently told my mother and I that there is no such thing as ‘mistakes’ when it comes to beekeeping, only ‘learning experiences’. Well, we had quite a few of those.

We dumped the bees in, as you can see in the video. The first minute of the video (which you can totally skip, no hard feelings) is just of my mother and I prying the top off of the package and taking out the can of food. What you don’t see in the video is my mother and I installing the queen cages into the hives before dumping the bees. This is the most crucial part of getting a hive established. If the queen is not installed correctly, it could lead directly or indirectly to her death. See, honey bees are very fickle. If anything goes wrong, or the bees feel disturbed in any way, they will likely blame it on the queen and kill her. That would be very bad! While its possible to get another queen, it delays the hives’ production of new bees. Without a constant supply of new bees, honey production will be severely¬†interrupted.

Thankfully, we haven’t had any problems thus far (we think). We checked on the queen cages today (+5 days after installation) and the queens were released! Yay! Step 1 complete. Unfortunately, the heat of the hive melted the queen cage into the wax foundation and we had to rip a queen cage-sized hole in the foundation. While it looks terrible and ugly as hell, I really hope it won’t cause any problems…

So, our queens are released. For our first venture into the hive (today), we were not supposed to do anything other than make sure the queen was released and take out the cage. We did not look for new eggs or anything, as we wanted to disrupt the bees as little as possible (Ha, yeah right). So hopefully the released queen decided to hang around and lay eggs! In other news, the bees were very busy drawing comb, which is exactly what we want to see! My mother and I were a little nervous about the state of my mother’s hive, because right from he get-go it seemed less active than mine, but they both seem to be doing well!

Next up, the first full inspection! Hopefully next weekend, weather depending.

Until next time,