Tuesday, July 25, 2006

day 23 for bees

My bees are doing quite well and have drawn out eight of the frames in their hive and have a lot of capped brood (which means the first baby bees will be born in the next week). I rewarded them with a second story.


Also my buckwheat is coming up and some is on its second set of leaves.


See all that green stuff. Well all the green stuff that is not grass or weeds is buckwheat. Good job buckwheat. Buckwheat makes very dark honey. It is the cool thing in beekeeping to like pale honey, like basswood, but I think it is sissy. It is unlikely that the bees will have any extra honey for me this year because they will need to keep it for the winter, but it is good practice for next year.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

bee week #1

This morning I harassed my beehive for real for the first time. I had to switch the unpainted hive body for the painted one. Also I had to make sure that the queen got out of her little cage and was laying eggs.


This is where my bees live. I am not one hundred percent pleased with the location, which I picked out in a hurry, thinking I could move it later. Then I realized I can only move it at night otherwise all the bees out foraging will not be able to find their way home. So I guess I will just live with it. (It would be better if it got more morning sun to make sure that the bees wake up nice and early.)


Here are some of my little darlings at the entrance. They will get to have a larger entrance once there are more of them. Sometimes other bees try to rob them or else wasps and things try to come in. This way the entrance is small enough that they can defend it.


The bees are doing a good job and have built a lot of comb. Also some of the cells have pollen, so I know they are actually going out and working and not just filling the cells with Wegmans sugar. See, they start with just a flat sheet of foundation in each frame and they have to build the cells out of wax, you can see some foundation in the lower right corner, it is yellow with wires through it. Here is some screwy comb they have built where the queen cage was. See, if there is more than 3/8" of space between the frames they fill it up with their own comb and the little wooden box with the queen inside was between this frame and the next one, so there was too much space. I had to take this chunk off, which was slightly nerve-wracking, because I am still beekeeping without a veil. This is not because I am a tough guy (although clearly I am a tough guy) but because it was backordered, so I cancelled it, and then I lost my debit card so now I can't order anything until I get a new one. Anyway, the bees are nice and I am not afraid of them, but pulling apart big chunks of their house while they have the potential to fly up and sting me on the eyeball is still not that fun.

Also the queen was still in her cage. They ate a hole through the queen candy but not a big enough hole for the queen to squeeze her fat ass through. So I had to let her out and there was an exciting moment where she ran around on top of the frames and acted like she might fly away before she went down into the hive. But now I think everything is fine and she better get to work and lay some damn eggs.


What clever little bees.


My uncle plowed this field for me. Now he has to disc it. I don't know what that means because although I am highly fascinated by farming, I know very little about it. Anyway then I am going to plant buckwheat for my bees. The middle of July is apparently the proper time for planting buckwheat, luckily. Then in late August he will plow it under and I will plant red clover, which grows in the fall, and then comes back and blooms in the spring. Then my little bees will be happy, assuming they are still alive in the spring. The hive is way back in the trees at the very very end of fields in the picture. So everyone who is asking me about my grandparents neighbors being upset about the bees, see? Don't worry. The backyard is very large.

Monday, July 03, 2006

how not to get started in beekeeping

A couple weeks ago I remembered that I like bees, and my grandparents said I could keep some in their backyard. But it turns out that if you want to have bees, you are supposed to order them in January and then they are delivered in May and if you don't get them started by the end of May then there is all kinds of doom and they will not be ready in time for winter and will all die horrible deaths etc etc etc. But I ordered some bees anyways, because I am impatient and did not want to wait 11 months to have bees, and I think maybe if I feed them all summer and hope for a mild autumn they might squeeze through the winter, despite this nursery rhyme. And also I ordered a hive. And a feeder and a smoker. But then I never heard back from the place that was supposed to ship my bees, so I assumed they were disreputable, because really no one ships package bees after May because it is too hot and etc, and my bees were never coming, and I gave up, and decided I would order some in January like I was supposed to. So I put the hive together but only this much:


And I was using it as a coffee table. See I didn't paint it or anything. And I didn't put the frames together. And the shipping on my veil and smoker and feeder was delayed but eh.

And then on Saturday at 8:33am I got a call from the post office that I should come get my bees. My bees! They came in a box like this, through the mail, they are from Georgia:


So the post office in South Buffalo is not really accustomed to having a huge buzzing box of three pounds of bees. The post office man said, "I don't like bees" when I signed for my bees.

Then we had to come home and superfast nail all the frames together and install the beeswax foundation and paint the bottom board and try to make a feeder out of a mayonnaise jar since my feeder is not coming until today. And also I didn't have a hive tool or a veil. So I installed my bees in a t-shirt and flip-flops with a butter knife for a hive tool. Although I cheated, because I was supposed to shake them all out of their mailing box, but I got scared on account of not having a veil, so just took the lid off, took the queen out (she is in a separate little box inside the big box), took the cork off of her cage and stuck her in the hive (the hole is plugged with this solid sugar candy stuff, so the bees eat through it after a while, but they will stay with the queen, so this way she doesn't get out until they are used to living in their hive, otherwise they might all fly away and live somewhere else), and then I just put the whole box with the lid off into the second story of the hive. I didn't get stung, but if I had shaken them out there would have been tons of bees flying around in the air, and it is a little unnerving since I haven't worked with bees since the summer of '00 and I never, ever did anything without a veil, and you must remain calm when working with the bees, because if you start to freak out that there are so many bees flying around then you get clumsy, and then once you get stung once there is an alarm pheromone issue and everything goes to hell.

The bad news is that I have to go get the mailing box out today, and the bees are going to be in a worse mood than they were in when they first got here, because now they think they have to defend their hive maybe. And I have to install their real feeder. And I am not supposed to mess with them too much or they freak out and reject the queen because they will think it is her fault. Also I have to finish painting the outer cover and the hive bodies, although that might wait until next week so that I don't molest them too much. Oh and also I noticed that there were ants crawling around a lot last night so I have to lift the hive up onto cinder blocks and sprinkle cinnamon all around it.

Also the bees might be cranky today because it is overcast and windy. The bees like nice weather. I hope UPS brings my veil.