Friday, April 27, 2007

The Bees Arrive

Last winter I studied bee keeping, it's something I've always found interesting, and wanted to try. Being a gardener, and orchardist, it was also appealing knowing they are also pollinating my fruit trees, and helping create food. After reading and studying some books on bees, I slowly bought everything to start my adventure, we are lucky to have a first rate bee keeping store right here in the town of Snohomish, it's called Beez Neez. First I bought the hive bodies, suit w/ veil, gloves, smoker, hive tools, and many frames to fill the hives with. I painted the outside of the hives, and all the exterior parts with a primer first, and then a green shade of exterior acrylic paint. They say for our NW climate, we need the color green to help absorb heat, any shade of green will do. My husband also had copper roofs made, although any roof will do, metal preferably.
My first year of bee keeping had it's share of ups and downs, and learning experiences. We got a large amount of honey, although we didn't weigh or keep track of how much we got, we definitely will this year. I told so many people that I would give them honey that we giving almost all of it away. Unfortunately last Fall and Winter we had horrible weather, and my bees didn't make it through. I didn't give them a medication called Fumagilin-B in the fall, so we believe they died from nosema, or dysentery, the symptoms were they just slowly died. Also the location may not have been sunny enough, because the hives also had some mildew in them. In any event, I had to clean everything very well, and disinfect the hive, and start over.
So, this Spring I bought 16 lbs of bees, and installed them a week ago. They are thriving, and happily setting up home. When I stand under my large cherry tree, I can look up and see hundreds of them pollinating, and the sound of the buzzing underneath is incredible. I've learned the importance of regularly checking on my bees, and doing the rountine chore or medicating. I did give them menthol/ thyme patties, and that helps the mite problem, I also learned there is a lot to learn about keeping bees, so having someone to ask questions and can help is really nice.

When you install bees they are very calm, and not yet territorial, so you can see my daughter Kaley and I watching them up close, she was facinated with them. I also plan to buy this year a pollen trap, and a propolis tray, it will be nice to have fresh pollen to eat, it's the perfect vitamin, and propolis for cuts, abrasions, sore throats etc. Keeping bees has many rewards like wax for candles and lip balm, pollen, propolis, fruit tree pollinating, and of course the honey. I will keep you posted on my progress with the bees this year, and will having fun learning more about their amazing world.