Honeybee Update #1 – 2017

 

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After our successful first year as beekeepers last year we were optimistic regarding our healthy, booming hive surviving the rigors of winter. We even purchased some tech savvy monitoring equipment to gauge their health throughout the winter, but alas, a pesky skunk, apparently adept at problem solving, kept bypassing our defenses in the fall, ultimately weakening our hive to a point it couldn’t recover. I’m sure there were other factors at play, which wreck havoc on the general bee population, e.g., pesticides, hive humidity. So this spring, we were saddened to find ourselves beeless, as we had become attached to our two hives.   We even had nicknamed our hives the ‘angry’ bees and the ‘lazy’ bees. I know, not the most creative of names but the names stuck before we were really conscious it was happening. We learned a lot from our inaugural hives, whereupon this year we are hoping we have summited the learning curve!

For our second season as beekeepers we decided to go with three hives, i.e., two Carniolan and one set of Italian bees. Having picked up our bees in early April, they’ve had just over a month to get acclimated into their new hives. Our troublesome skunk has been back, however we were prepared this year with a sturdier barrier. Let’s see how Pepé Le Lew troubleshoots this new obstacle. We are currently brainstorming new hive nicknames! We of course have mulled over using our favorite Detroit Tigers players or perhaps even some Lion’s players, however nothing has quite stuck. As such, I must propose this query my wonderfully creative blogging community! Do you have any good ideas with regard to hive nicknames?

Below you’ll find some of my favorite images from our first few weeks caring for our bees! I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we did! I’ll be adding updates of our beekeeping adventure throughout the summer season!


In the photo below Luke is shaking out the bees into their new hive.  The white container that he is holding is how the bees are delivered to us, with each one containing three pounds of honeybees.

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The next photo is one of my favorite that I’ve ever taken! Honeybees are very calm and relaxed as long as you are not attempting to harvest the honey that they’ve worked so hard to make.  In this photo you can see one of the worker bees returning to the hive after foraging for pollen. Honeybees fill sacks located on their legs with pollen, as you can see in this image by the yellow bulge protruding from its leg.

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I get a claustrophobic feeling looking at the next two images.  In the summer a healthy hive has an approximate population of 60,000 adult honeybees.  It is honestly hard to fathom that quantity of bees, let alone in one hive.  Regardless, the close quarters make for some interesting images.

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37 comments

    • The first photo was from last year when we had them on the ground. This year, as seen in the second photo we build a 1′ base for all three hives to get the off the ground. Do you have hives?

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      • Ah, I see it now. My parents keep bees, and I go over and help them out. We’ve always had Italians in the five years of beekeeping… And so they’ve died every year. We’re trying Russians this year, as they are supposed to be hardier. 🐝

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This is the coolest thing, Sarah! I’ve heard that there’s a global decline in honeybees so well done for helping the bees 🐝. My suggestions for hive nicknames are the bee’s knees (like your fab photo) and busy bees.

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  2. I have no suggestions for names… I’m terrible at such things. However, this is an amazing project! I love it and the pictures are phenomenal. Have you thought about maybe trapping Pepe? Maybe have a wildlife expert find him a new home? I’m not sure how that works, but I feel for the bees. Buzz Buzz! 🐝

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    • Thanks Jenn! We have thought about trapping but would only do a live trap and that has some stinky complications of its own. 🙂 If the problem persists we will probably have to take some additional measures but we are hoping our modifications deter the little stinker. 🙂

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  3. I am not a fan of bees (as I deathly afraid of them!), but I know they are essential to our environment. I applaud you for taking on such an amazing task and wish you the best of luck!

    I’m sorry to hear about the skunk situation. I hope this year will prove to be better!

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    • Thanks! I still suffer from the jerk reaction when one of the little bees land on me despite knowing that I probably won’t get stung. There was one episode that earned an eye roll from my husband earlier this spring when I kicked my flat shoe across the garden because I found a bee on my pant leg. 🙂 I’m sure we can outsmart the little stinker or at least discourage him from snacking on our bees.

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  4. Good on you, and it’s great to see you passionate about these important creatures. My brother is a bee breeder here in New Zealand and he provides nucleus hives and queens, etc. to bee keepers all over the country. He gets quite a bit of honey as a “by-product” which he moves through a friend who sells into Japan mostly. I get roped in to moving the hives around from time to time so I’m used to being stung! Good luck with your bees!

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    • Les! That is so fascinating! I loved hearing about your brother and his company! I can imagine he would end up with quite a bit of honey. We live in Michigan and have to order our bees either from California or Georgia. Isn’t raw honey so delicious! 🙂

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      • Yeah he’s really into it. It’s a joint venture with a friend and they’re really into the science of the whole thing. Here’s their FB page if you wanna have a peek:
        https://www.facebook.com/Totarabees/
        They’re doing quite well with it. They build their own boxes and other bits and pieces. They love it. We do enjoy the honey too, and YES raw honey is awesome. I’m a particular lover of the milder light honeys like clover, although we do have some native species here in NZ that make delicious darker honeys. We have one from the Manuka, which is a small native tree and the honey from that is a big export seller apparently.
        Keep up the good work!

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  5. Perhaps the ones that look well lively and work hard you can name them “Soldiers” or “Warriors” and the ones who are lazy but still going strong “Royals”…eh we don’t know personally we would name each hive after things/parts (?) from our fave books – perhaps each hive after the courts in ACOTAR trilogy – the best ones; Night Court, the bad ones; Autumn Court, the lazy ones; Spring Court etc. We may change it if we actually have bees LOL 😂 Anyways it’s SOOO COOOOOL that you have bees as pets – if anyone annoys you = unleash your warrior beesss!! 🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝

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    • I love your comment! 🙂 Great suggestions! I was thinking maybe the three musketeers, but Luke thought we could be a bit more clever. The honeybees are so relaxed and calm it is hard to imagine them as warrior bees. I won’t tell the people that annoy me that though. 🙂

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      • Thanks! The Three Musketeers really sound cool! But for great bees you must wait until you find the right name for them! Hehehe they won’t know what hot them lol – scared of calm bees 😂

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    • Thank you! The honeybees are amazingly calm. Luke is wearing the protective equipment, however as the photographer I can get really close wearing normal clothes and the bees don’t pay me any mind.

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  6. Sooooo cool! What a neat hobby.

    Hmmm, not sure what to do about Pepe. We actually had ground bees and wanted them gone. Our neighbor told us to put jelly on their nest and let the skunks take care of them rather than paying an exterminator. It worked. So, yeah, skunks are a double-edged sword!

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    • Thanks Elizabeth! How interesting! Honeybees don’t live in the ground so it must have been a different species. Did the jelly in the ground actually work? If so, that’s a really neat trick to know! 🙂 Hopefully no one got stung before they were found!

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      • No, ground bees aren’t honeybees. They don’t live in hives, though lots of females will all nest together. Each female has her own nest. We might not have cared about them, but we have a toddler and pre-schooler, so we didn’t want them to walk onto the nests and get stung.

        And yes, it worked. We have a lot of wildlife in our neighborhood, including raccoons, possums, and turkeys, so we knew the skunks were here.

        Skunks (or someone, we never saw what) dug up the nest, ate the bees, and we didn’t have to use pesticide near the kids. We thought it a win all around.

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      • I’ve actually been reading about ground bees ever since your post. 🐝 Learn all the things! I’m glad it worked for you and no one, especially your little ones got hurt!

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  7. Such brave souls! I could not get past my worry of getting stung. Your skunk sounds like a squirrel we had who could jump from a tree 5 feet away and land on top of our birdfeeder, then flip underneath the cone that was supposed to block him, then hang upside down so he could reach the seed chute! He obviously was trained in the circus! After trying everything we could to block him, we set a live trap and quickly caught him and drove 10 miles to a grove of trees and let him loose. End of squirrel problems! I realize that a skunk would be more difficult to catch and move. I didn’t realize skunks could be so destructive to bees.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! I love the idea of having beehives but I am too scared! Have you read Buzz Off by Hannah Reed? It’s the start of a series where the heroine accidentally and hilariously solves crimes and she keeps bees. It’s pretty cute.
    I think you should combine your passions and name the bees after your favorite authors or characters.
    Otherwise : Beesknees, Beeswax, BeeBoop, or other things with Bee in the name!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love the photos! For names, how about Ape (italian for bee), Carni and Nolan (a play on Carniolan).

    It is Monday morning right now and my other thought was Larry, Moe & Curly so you can see I need coffee… 🙂 Good luck with the new hives — we’ll all be rooting for you!

    Liked by 1 person

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