Bad Queen!

Here’s a good example of a queen that isn’t doing a good job. Queens get it on in flight, and this Spring has been a rollercoaster of weird weather. I think this lady wasn’t mated properly-her laying is all over the place and she’s shooting blanks-laying eggs that turn into drones.

The thing to do here is replace her, but I HATE HUNTING DOWN A QUEEN. HATE. It’s literally finding a needle in a haystack-tedious, sweaty, and frustrating.

So, I tried an experiment with this hive-I put a queen excluder (mesh that workers can pass through but the queen can’t) in between each box and waited a week. This way, I can ID which box she’s in, so the search takes much less time. 

I was a little nervous going in today! But, I’m happy to report I found her (and squished her) in less than 10 minutes today. ☠️ Now to find this colony a new queen before they get too ornery 😬

The swarms just keep on coming….

The whole concept of ‘God laughs when you make plans’ is a REAL thing with beekeeping. Yesterday should have been a quiet day checking in on a few of last month’s swarms: giving them more space, making sure they are queen-right, and generally doing apiary maintenance (you might be surprised at how much time I spend pulling weeds that grow up in front of hive entrances!)Of course, one of the first things I noticed on carrying equipment out to the beez was this big swarm-how polite were these ladiez, SO low to the ground! One of the  easiest swarms I’ve ever captured. A quick shake into a box, and then a ‘quiet’ beekeeping afternoon turned into a ‘normal’ one 😅

This apiary is on a hillside, so to install a new hive I need:

  • One flat-edge shovel (for leveling the ground)
  • 16 bricks (to act as a foundation)
  • five assorted pieces of hive equipment
  • some honey or sugar cake to keep the swarm put.

All of this 50′ up an incline, bees installed, AND I got my cardio in for the day. That’s a good afternoon in the apiary life.

It’s Swarm Season!

Swarming Season

The absolute bananas pace of beekeeping will never stop amazing me. Come along on this trip:When it rains for a while and then you get a gorgeous sunny day (=every minute of this Spring) honeybees want to swarm (you see swarms in the form of clumps of bees on your porch or in a tree this time of year.) It’s a totally natural thing; it’s how the colony reproduces. The catch is, EVERYTHING HAPPENS AT ONCE.

Yesterday, I was heading to my main apiary for a quickie check on a few boxes when I spotted this swarm in my yard! They were very accommodating and in a small tree, so I simply built them a hive in the apiary, grabbed my step ladder, and got on to the business of capturing them. Catch #1: The swarm landed in an (empty) bird’s nest-like a grassy bowl of bees!Catch #2: While I was scooping out my nest of bees, a friend called me to let me know she had a swarm in her front yard!Catch #3: I am running out of woodenware to make new hives!

Ever the optimist, I pour my birdnest bees into their new hive and drive across town to capture swarm #2 of the day-also accommodating, under some low brush. WIN

My Sanatoga apiary has doubled in size this Spring, which means honey for you. Now, I am off to purchase more woodenware!

Social Distancing!

hank and social distancing

Aren’t you getting tired of the phrase? it’s everywhere.I chuckle to myself every time I say it, but I also am really, really thankful I know so many people putting in the time to work for their fellow man in this way. Almost every customer at market jokes with me about how we can’t get too close-and POOR HANK. Hank, who lives for human contact, has spent the past month in a state of befuddled disgruntlement. Greeting folks through the car window JUST WON’T DO.
But, we prevail. I know I, and my fellow vendors, are humbled by your continuing efforts to keep farmer’s markets going at all costs. It is something special for us that, at this time, we don’t have to be afraid that our livelihoods will founder, and the community created here is almost too important to express.
So, thank you for social distancing-for my parents and immunocompromised friends-and also thank you for understanding your honey purchase does so much more than put honey on your toast. xoxo