Busy as a bee! Our hives have increased this year thanks to us performing splits and capturing swarms. All our bees are busy, busy, busy these days! During the spring when everything was abloom they had all they could harvest. Those girls were coming & going from the hives with pollen pockets full!
But now that the heat of our NE Texas season is starting to set in the blooms are not quite as prolific. Oh there are still wildflowers blooming, and the bees are all having a hayday in my garden alright. But with the fading blooms and the fact that we’re trying to boost some of those smaller swarm hives, RancherMan & I decided perhaps we need to give them a little feed. There are many ways to accomplish this, here’s what we do:
Our apiary started out with two established single-deep beehives. That first beehive stand was built using repurposed 2″x6″ boards that were 6-ft long from raised beds that we tore out. We added a deep box to each hive last year & saw those bees safely through the winter.
This spring we split them into four hives. Now we needed another hive stand so we built another like the first from purchased 2″x6″ boards. Then we caught not one, not two, but FOURBee Swarms this spring! (I KNOW, how exciting!!)
But these swarms are being caught & brought to our fledgling apiary faster than we can build stands. RancherMan decided to change direction. He wanted to assemble the next stands using concrete cinder blocks and 4″x4″ 5-ft long wood posts.
Y’all know we bought our very first bees last year & it’s been a blast raising these girls. But there’s typically no honey harvest that first year as they’re getting established. The honey they make during that first year needs to remain with the hive to see them through the winter. We overwintered our bees and they came through this spring with flying colors!
So we split the hives about 8 weeks ago. Bibbidy-bobbedy-boo our 2 hives turned into 4! After the split we allowed the hives to recover a bit before we inspected them again. The hives without a queen raised a new queen to take her place, the hives that retained their queen kept on with business as usual. Our inspection today showed that now we’re ready to add a honey super to the two stronger hives.
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Ya know how you start your day with an idea of the tasks at hand? Work on blog stuff, finish honeysuckle jelly, strain the honey from the comb we had to remove from a hive yesterday. You know, that kinda stuff.
Well that’s how my day started, then everything changed. RancherMan came in from the pastures & told me it was time to suit up, we’ve got a bee swarm to catch. Woo-hoo! Apparently he saw a swarm of bees about 15-ft up in a tree right near our pasture gate. We’ve never captured a swarm before so here’s yet one more opportunity to learn something exciting about beekeeping! And maybe get to add a new hive of bees to our group as well.
There are many ways you can obtain your first set of bees. You can buy a Nuc which is a queen with a small amount of bees. Or you can buy a package of bees to put into a full hive box.
But we found a local beekeeper who sold established hives. Her hives were sold complete with a deep hive box containing frames of honey, brood, bees and a queen. It’s recommended that you have a minimum of 2 hives so we bought two and started our new beekeeping endeavor.
RancherMan & I wanted to begin raising bees for many reasons: to help the declining honeybee population, to aid in our vegetable garden pollination and of course – HONEY!
We harvested a couple of frames of honey last fall so I could FINALLY have raw honey which contained ragweed pollen. I’m hoping consuming that raw unfiltered honey will help with my fall allergies.
But there’s another beehive product that’s been very helpful – all-natural beeswax. I purified the wax and decided to use some of it to make beeswax lip balm for myself as well as part of our homemade Christmas Gifts.
This lip balm really couldn’t be easier – only 3 ingredients! Check it out, y’all.
We purchased two established hives in the spring of 2016. So far they’ve done very well. I’ve been sharing details of our beekeeping journey along the way. I’ve linked to various topics we’ve already covered below. Feel free to check ’em out!
But when the weather starts turning colder RancherMan begins preparing the hives for winter weather. He started by placing entrance reducers at the front of the hives. He did this to keep the cold wind at bay which will help to keep the hive warmer when those cold winds blow. Plus it gives a smaller entrance for the bees to have to defend against honey robbing too.
But although we feel they’re going into the winter with a healthy honey reserve to see them through, we wanted to make sure. So during an unseasonably warm, sunshiny and windless winter day we decided to go in for a little check-see…