Welcome the honeybees..

What is this about honeybees? I have always been interested in attempting to raising honeybees. The honey is great, but I also wanted to reap their benefits in my little garden.  Now that we have the worms to provide all natural fertilizer, I thought why not add a hive to help increase the pollination! If you are an avid gardener, you can get a hive setup too. If I can do it, anyone can. It helps boost your garden’s harvest and you don’t need a lot of space!

Unfortunately, I started a little too late in the season to build up a strong colony so it would be healthy enough to survive the winter. They have less of a chance of surviving without a hearty supply of honey. I would have never known this without the help of Mike Childer’s. Who is this guy? He is a local beekeeper who is helping me get started with the beekeeping. Luckily he stopped me from purchasing the bees and hive. They would have only had a 50% chance of survival.

Mike with a hive

Mike with hive

Mike owns and operates Mike’s honeybees in Raleigh, NC. He provides quality products and services! Mike and his wife have been enjoying honeybees since 2005.  Their bees are pesticide-free and come from farms that use naturally grown methods.  Mikes Honeybees is a member of both the Wake and NC State Beekeepers Assoc. Also he is a Journeyman Beekeeper in the NC Master Beekeepers Program.

Anyhow, Mike got me a high-quality beginner’s beekeeping kit. I chose to order it unassembled… figure it would be fun to put together and get more intimate knowledge of the hive that way. But you can order them already assembled and even painted for slightly more. Below is a photo of what the wooden components look like when they arrive.

Hive frames as they arrive

Unassembled wooden frames

Here is the bees wax used in the frames:

Bee's wax which goes into frames

And finally, I have the outer part of the hive nailed on glued.

Outer hive boxes assembled

I will keep posting pictures as I go. I hope to be done and have it painted in the next month or so…. Then in the early spring my bees will arrive. I am excited!

3/17/2012 The bees have arrived! So the hive is painted and ready to go for their new occupants. Here are a few photos from the day we picked-up the bees:

Empty hive with frames

Box of bees

Suit reminds me of ones the scientists wore in E.T. movie

 

 

 

 

 

 

On delivery day, I was a little nervous about deploying the bees to the hive. I setup the empty hive in a nice sunny location near the pond. The kids watched from afar…amazed at my new get-up. I got started quickly and made my first mistake… I forgot to light the smoker. Not too smart…

I did not have any gloves on because some beekeepers advise against them. They decrease your dexterity and can cause you to crush bees and bang things around (this increases chances of getting stung). So gloveless and nervous I set out to install queen. Somewhere along the way, as I was prying a staple out, it popped pretty forcefully. I think this freaked the bees out…and one of them decided to sting me. At this point, I retreated and got the smoker. Armed with the smoker, things went smoothly, I was able to reach into the box and grab the queen out (since I had dropped her into the box when I got stung). I put her into the hive and released the other bees. Here is photo below:

Bees installed - queen is secured in little box (see strap)

After this, it was time to leave them to do their job. We returned later in the week to check on them. You can see that they are getting along fine. Some honey deposits already and they are building the comb out. They were very busy and did not really care too much about me. This time no sting!

Bees hard at work

Bees building out comb

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4 Responses to Welcome the honeybees..

  1. Greg says:

    First off, just to let you know the 2 lbs. of reds I picked up from you are doing great (up to about 5 lbs now). Very healthy and productive bunch!

    I’m working on getting a hive myself next spring for the same reasons. But I believe the wife feels left out and jealous of the worms and is fearful she will loose me totally with an addition of bees! Wish me luck and congrats on entering backyard beekeeping.

    P.S. Did you give the worm casting tea a try yet?

  2. Steve says:

    Hey,
    Glad to hear the worms are doing well!

    I am excited about the bees too!

    I did try worm tea… It worked really good on plants and veggies. But it did not help too much with japanese beetles on the grape vines. I need to get some garlic cloves and plant them. Give that a try.

  3. BILL FERRELL says:

    STEVE;
    I AM THINKING ABOUT GETTING INTO WORMS. I DON’T KNOW THE EIRST THING ABOUT RAISING THE LITTLE CRITTERS. ALL I WAS TOLD WAS GET HORSE MANURE PUT IT IN A BOX THEN ADD THE WORMS, NOW I LOOKED WORM FARMIMG AND EVERONE IS TALKING ABOUT COMPOSTING OR WORM COMPOSTING. IF YOU GET A CHANCE PLEASE EXPLAIN
    THANK YOU
    BILL FERRELL

    • Steve says:

      Hi Bill,
      A worm bin can be as simple as just laying manure on the ground in rows or piles. Or you can build or buy a complex system that harvests the worms for you. I prefer the cheaper way. You can put some wood down to build a bin on the ground. That way the earth’s mass will provide some thermal insulation to the bin. Just put some hardware wire on bottom if moles are an issue in your area. This keeps them out and protects the worms.

      For bedding you can use cardboard, leaves, shredded paper, or even peat moss. These materials keep the moisture in the bin. So worms can breath and thrive. Then you can feed them veggie scraps, manure, or even worm chow. But again, it tend to avoid items that cost money. If you have access to horse manure or rabbit manure, just keep watering it and put some worms in it. They will expand in population like crazy. Plus they will leave you a lot of castings behind.

      If you want some free info, check out our resource page. It has a free document/book put out by Canadian government. It is called the manual to on farm vermicomposting & vermiculture. It has a huge amount of info in it. And best of all, it is FREE!!!