Beekeeping Season Anew

It is beekeeping season anew. And each year brings new challenges. Last year I really ramped up production, buying quite a few new hives and building a lot of equipment. But with the combination of factors, this year will be quieter than last. At the end of beekeeping season, November, I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and could just barely zip up my bee suit. And when I did, I had an incredible wedgie. I looked hilarious, leaning over the hive, belly brushing the top of the frames. I couldn’t really lift the supers like I needed to. Luckily my mother in law is very brave and was a wonderful help.

Then, this Winter and Spring were so wet, and distracted with a heart surgery, hernia surgery etc. that I did not get to do what I needed to do to the poor bees. Some survived but most didn’t. As I’ve been taking the dead hives apart to clean and diagnose, I’ve found that some hives died from mites, some died from starvation, one from red ants, a couple from dampness. There is not an overall answer, only hints of what may have gone wrong.

As for what went right; I have 4 hives now that survived. I had 5 until last week when one decided to play hooky and take off into the great unknown. Safe journeys bees!

Katja the hive is doing fantastically. Probably the best hive out of the bunch. The queen, which I fondly call Elegance, is long and shapely and a good layer. They have lots of honey, lots of pollen and lots of babies waiting to hatch. It is broom season right now, and all the broom is blooming. We see lots of bees who look like cheezies flying in, all dusted in yellow pollen. They have to stop at the door and get licked off by the house bees before going back out. It’s a fantastic dance to watch.

Lucinda is missing their queen so we are in the process of coaxing them to grow another. We also fed them some honey we found in one of the vacant hives. Hopefully this gives them a bit of a boost that they need and we can get them back on track. If they do not raise another queen, I will combine this hive with another.

Clotilde is well. Her queen is a motivated layer but they are hungry. With all the mouths to feed, I gave them a few frames of honey to boost their production. I think I’ll be splitting this hive if I can do it before they get swarmy.

And Pope’s hive has lots of honey. No wonder with the beautiful flowers these expert gardeners provide. They hum alongside the bumblebees and keep the flowers well pollinated.

Right now the arbutus are blooming, and the lilacs. The blossoms around the island are plentiful and I hope to supplement the bees only a little as they build up their population for the big blackberry bloom. I’ll have honey to swipe again this year and an extractor to repair so I hope to have honey available again soon.

Summer arrives late this year, but somehow it feels even sweeter because we’ve had to wait. I just hope the bees find it sweet here too. Because they certainly spice up my life and make me smile.

About Amanda

Living a simple quiet life on the Gulf Islands, BC. Sometimes in a house, sometimes aboard a boat, raising our daughter and having loads of fun Out of the Rat Race.

8 Thoughts on “Beekeeping Season Anew

  1. Sandi on 10 June, 2011 at 2:45 pm said:

    Great to see you beekeeping again after your little sabbatical caring for Brie. So many mouths to feed!

  2. Bea Smoker on 10 June, 2011 at 2:53 pm said:

    We’re looking forward to getting some more honey so hope your remaining bees are good producers.

    Is Marc finished working on Salt Spring and home again to watch Gabrielle while you’re busy beekeeping?

    A special hug to our precious Brie! Good to know she’s doing so well. Keep healthy and growing little one.

  3. Danielle on 10 June, 2011 at 3:14 pm said:

    Love the positivity for your remaining hives! Can’t wait to get a taste of those hard little workers fabulous honey. You’ll have to get Brielle a little bee suit so when she can toddle around she can help her Mama feed and harvest the bees.

  4. Deb Weyrich-Cody on 11 June, 2011 at 10:30 am said:

    Hi Amanda, Glad to see you back out in the beeyard again. Sorry about your losses, but unfortunately this seems to be fairly normal this year.: (

    Does one of your other hives have a frame of fresh (less than a day-old) eggs to give Lucinda to requeen itself? Or can you possibly get one from another beekeeper? Either way, make sure to leave the nurse bees on the frame to both take care of the eggs and bolster colony numbers. Take care, D

    • Hi Deb, Thanks for your comments. This is exactly what I’ve done. I’ve taken a frame of fresh eggs and given them to Lucinda so they can raise a queen. Last time I did this, it was successful so I’ll wait a week longer and then check it.

  5. We have so far had a really wet, cool year also down here in Oregon. Our 9 hives have virtually no stores and we have given them 50 lbs of honey for the second time this spring. Build up is very slow so far. Right now, the Arbutus has finished blooming and it was really too wet / cold for the bees to be able to take much advantage of it. The very first few blackberry blossoms are just showing. We have no broom close by so when we see the bright yellow bees coming in, we know that they are foraging far afield.
    Might be an interesting year for the bees.

  6. Fascinating post — what a cool thing you do…is that offer of the second suit still open one day? Theresa

  7. Yes Theresa, it sure is! Just let me know what weekend works for you.

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