Checking the Bees

Bees are so at the heart of what I do. They inspire me: they stick together as a family, they work hard, they cooperate, they keep their house clean (really!), they store up the sweetness of summer for winter’s dearth. And they are fiercely protective of their homes, when necessary. Most of the time, they don’t need or want to defend against the beekeeper, lucky of me!

And what would I do without their wonderful honey, wax, and propolis? and what would the flowers do without their pollination?

This year I had both good luck and bad luck. Last fall I had 8 hives. One I lost in the fall–it went queen less too late to do anything about it, so winter started with 7 hives.

I lost all but one over the winter. They had made a good crop of honey, but I suspect the queens weren’t great on the new colonies I had started. All the dead colonies had plenty of honey, so that wasn’t the issue. Sometimes, things just don’t work out…

But I figured I would split the colony that was left, and go on from there.

Well, guess what? Now I have five colonies. Friendly neighborhood swarms took up residence in some equipment I thoughtfully left out for them. And they are boomers! So I’m back up to five, and will be back to my preferred 10-ish next year.

Cole (more about Cole later–he’s the young man in the gray shirt and no protective gear) checked my backyard hives, my Lansing hives, and the hives of a friend, whom I’m mentoring. She has bees and goats and chickens. The goats are very photogenic.

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That’s the thing about beekeeping: you can have good luck, you can have bad luck. You just ride it out and keep going. And in an area like this, with so many beekeepers, it isn’t too hard to lure a swarm or two (or three!) to rebuild.

(By the way, I took most of the pictures, but I’m the one in the filthy jacket with no elastic left and bright pink overalls.)


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