This summer has flown by as we find August drawing to a close. As it has been several months since my last honeybee update, I thought I’d share some of our recent photos. Luke and I have been helping my parents bale straw this year so we’ve spent a lot of time home, with plenty of opportunity to check on our bees. Unfortunately all 11,000ish bales of straw we’d accrued were lost in my parent’s devastating barn fire. I decided to add some of the photos from baling straw this season partly due to our old barn being in them and partly because of the swing of emotions that have occurred since the photos were taken.
We started out this year with five hives, three Carniolans and and two of the new hybrids Saskatraz, with the weather proving to be quite a hurdle early on with icy, snowy temperatures. Despite the hives all looking healthy early on, one of our Saskatraz queens died and unfortunately we didn’t catch it with enough to save the hive. Once down to four hives we were more vigilant regarding the health of the hives, spotting the death of a second queen, this time a Carniolan with enough time to try to save the hive. In our three years as beekeepers we had not replaced a queen mid season before so we were a bit nervous. We overnighted our new queen, getting a phone call from the local Post Office at 7AM that she’d arrived. Going to the back dock of the local post office, I was surprised at the little box she arrived in as you can see in the photo below. The next day, Luke and I drove down to my parents where we installed her in her new home. A little over a month later, with her first brood having now hatched, the population in this hive has remarkably rebounded. They are well on their way to having enough honey to survive the winter. In the closeup below of her little cage, you can spot the queen by the red mark on her back.
When we set up our hives, we knew there was a risk of falling trees due to several dead ashes around the edge of the woods. We’ve been quite lucky as there have been four trees that have fallen, yet none have damaged the hives. One fell as recent as the night our barn burned due to the strong winds that blew through the area. Keep your fingers crossed for us that the weakened trees continue to dodge our hives!
In the photo below you can see Luke spreading cinnamon on the top cover of our hive. We have found the spice to be a useful tool to keep away pesky ants and other insects from making this dry space their home. We’d raided my Mom and Grandma’s cupboards for cinnamon earlier this spring so my Mom bought us a jumbo size since we’d kept forgetting or running out.
Earlier this summer my Great Uncle reached out with a honeybee problem. He had a swarm move into his storage shed that contains a bunch of old empty supers, and wanted to see if we could get them organized into one hive. Not quite knowing what to expect, we found bees covering almost every available space in the shed. Tearing out many, many supers we were able to find where the bees were concentrated and moved them (and hopefully the queen) into one hive. We checked back on this hive a few weeks later and found them fully moved in, but out of space for new honey. We happily added a new super as well as added additional supers to my Uncle’s other hives.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my latest update and enjoyed the photos! Stay tuned for a new post as we near our first harvest of the year. We will not likely have as much honey this year but have delighted in our adventure with our bees so far this summer! Every year we gain new skills and knowledge in keeping our bees healthy and happy.
On a side note, check out how incredibly talented my coworker is! For my birthday she made me this beautiful key chain and earrings from scratch. ❤