There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. --- Henry David Thoreau
"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. -- The House at Pooh Corner
I know I have been neglecting this blog! It's just that the Bee Girls have been so self-sufficient that I have had no real news to report. Anyway, I decided I ought to get one more post in before the new year, so here's a kind of status report:
City bees and Country bees - both doing fine. They venture out on a few flights on the sunny winter days, there's always a little ivy flowering, plus the abundance of roadside flowers and plants the neighbors have cultivated. With all the doug fir and other evergreens there's always some pine resin to be had for propolis.
The City bees are in the 36" kTBH, with about 2/3 of the bars carrying comb. They stay at the far end away from the entrance and don't ball up much, but are kind of 'slowly active' over the combs.
The Country bees are in the 30" kTBH and are about equally active, although the little brats have been mean since October and the onset of colder weather. They like to clump up on the combs closest to the entrance end of the hive.
I opened both these hives' observation windows; the City bees just looked up and said "huh"? and sent out a few scouts to check me out. The Country bees, however, jumped at the chance to boil out a couple dozen angry ladies who needed to sting me just to show who was boss. I got two nice stings and quickly closed up their window. Both hives seem to have gone through about half their stores, so I'll be checking often now that it got colder (down to +28F last night) and feed them if necessary. I figure about another 6-8 weeks before there is a viable resurgence of springtime blooms here in the Willamette Valley/Cascade Foothills location.) I'm waiting for the grocery store Xmas candy canes to go on clearance sale, when I can load them up. I'm toying with the idea of cooking up some fondant and adding some pollen patties. Looking around for good recipes. (hint, hint)
Karen and Maria's Hive -- is that 48" kTBH that has the main swarm the City bees cast last spring. They are a big thriving colony, still doing quite well. They are tucked in for winter, too. I plan on monitoring them about as closely as the City /Country hives from now until spring. They'll get some candy canes too.
The Hard Luck Warré -- Has done the best of any of my colonies. It began this winter with three full Warré boxes, with a large population of bees. I don't take any honey, as the idea is to 'keep' the bees, and promote healthy swarms with as little interference by me as I can manage. I put another box on just before the rains came. (and I mean right before they came!) These are that first colony I received from the farmer's stock over in Creswell. These bees turned out to be "Golden Bees", a variety of very yellow, very pretty Italian species. A member of one of the bee listserves read that I had them and wants a nuc this spring. T'will be interesting to try my hand at splitting and "nuc-ing" this colony. Stay tuned.
Here's the hive a couple of days before New Year's, everybody inside and staying warm in the +29F degree weather and the snow. (You can hear them buzzing inside if you put your ear to the boxes. Nobody comes out to object or I'd have a stung ear, btw.) It hasn't been warm enough since then to see them doing any outside flights, but I expect the first warm day will bring them out. I've been careful to slightly tip the hive every so often to check and see if it feels like there's any honey stores left. So far so good, but they'll get fed if they seem to need it.
The Biodynamic Lang-- has been quiet. They were the second of the Golden Bee colonies from the Creswell farmer. They filled the bottom brood box with rapid growth. The bees built a lot of combs on the foundationless frames I put in there. However, they seem not to want to build up into that first super on top, although they have propolized the entire interior of both boxes where they felt they needed to. I worry most about this hive, as it had a lot of bees inside with only that one large deep for resources. It still feels heavy to heft it, but the first warmer day we get in January I'm going to set up the feeder (and stick a mirror in there to see how things are going.)
So, I end 2010 with just five colonies. The small 24" kTBH managed to lose its short occupancy of a small swarm we captured in mid-summer; and the redwood Warré never got populated, despite my best intentions. (I kept giving swarms and swarm opportunities to newbeeks.) I think the redwood hive will get some modifications before spring -- it'll prolly be the first one I try those little porthole openings on. I'm also set to produce a bunch more of my famous-unpatented-oversized-paperflowerpot swarm traps, as soon as I get the garage cleaned up. I reckon that by the end of Feburary I can spread the traps around, put my little "Got Bees?" notices up and get ready to acquire a bunch more swarms. (wish me luck!)
Okay, Solstice has passed, the New Year is upon us, and we're headed for the light. Happy 2011 beekeeping, y'all.
This blog originates in Pleasant Hill/Dexter, Oregon. I try to summarize those little tips and bits of information and experience that no one who writes bee books bothers to explain. I've gathered up what lessons I could from 7 years (so far) of hands-on learning "the hard way"; from asking a lot of questions of seasoned, experienced Beeks; and from paying attention to the 'Net. My name is Tom Warren. [The picture above is of Molly, Ed, Sean and Twinkle, in the Eagle's Rest Garden and Beeyard]
Like many bee blogs, this one tends to not get updated with new posts like it should. (Lots of beeks give up on their blogs because they get busy with the hives and don't come in and sit at the computer) I quit beating myself up about no new posts, instead I've been told that the links and resources being present and updated makes this blog good enough to keep me at it. I'm keeping it active, even if it doesn't look like it. Patience, y'all.
Cut to the Chase ....
If you need to get started keeping bees real quick, THIS SECTIONwill give you tips and guidance on the things you need to do, in the order you need to do them. Then, Dear Reader, start from the bottom up and read about one Newbeek's meanderings toward how to save some of the bees ...