Posts Tagged ‘bees’

apiary field trip

Monday, April 26th, 2010

David and Coryndon’s bee class made a bee-line (sorry, I had to) out to Smithfield, RI for a visit to Beehavin’ Apiary this past weekend. I’ll let David tell you all about it…

bees in the package

My bee class was invited to watch a demonstration on how to transfer a package of bees into a hive at a local apiary. The package above was developed in the early 20th century as a way to distribute bees by mail. Bees can only live a couple of days without food or water and in the days before the interstate highway system, U.S. mail was the best way to get bees quickly to their new homes.

moving the queen’s box

The queen is in a small wooden box inside a metal can in the lid of the package, she needs to be protected from the other bees for the first several days, until they get to know each other.

The lid and can are removed and the lid temporarily replaced over the opening.

The queen’s box is placed in the center of the new hive, it has a sugar candy plug in the end which the bees will eat through, at first they want to get at her to kill her but over the course of eating their way in to her, they will become accustomed to her smell and by the time they free her it’s one big happy family in the hive.

moving the bees into the hive

Once the queen’s box is in place, the bees in the package are dumped gently into the hive. They recognize it immediately as a great place to start a home and move right in.

sugar water for dinner

The hive will need to be fed a 1:1 mixture of sugar and water (in the glass jar) until nectar is flowing in the flowers surrounding the hive. The hive shown here is called a nuc (short for nucleus) and only has five frames in it, it’s a kind of temporary hive.

Some bees wil be reluctant to leave the package so it’s left open near the hive entrance for a day or so. In two days it will be time to check that the queen has been released, if not she’ll need to be freed by hand. And then she will lay eggs — up to 1,500 per day!

the burbs and the bees

Friday, April 16th, 2010

David’s first bee class was last night! He gives us a download…

common honeybee |

I went to my first bee class last night with my friend Coryndon down at CCRI in Cranston. The burbs.

The teacher has been involved in beekeeping since the mid-’70s and teaching classes about bees for about ten years, mostly at local agricultural schools. This is the first general-populace course he’s taught. Apparently there’s a big increase in interest lately. Good for the bees!

It was the first of six three-hour classroom sessions, I learned some basics like:

  • Kept honeybees are a species first domesticated by the Egyptians.
  • Bees eat nectar and pollen.
  • Rhode Island is far from an ideal place for commercial beekeeping.
  • Queen bees can live as long as five years but workers just live a few months.
  • Bee space is 1/4″ to 5/16″, if you leave a bigger gap between parts inside your hive the bees will build honeycomb in it, and if you leave a smaller gap the bees will seal it shut with propolis.

Bees are wicked cool. I already knew that.

We’re looking forward to having a hive or two, even though we may not get much (or even any) honey from them. For us, it’s more about the support of our bee friends than hopes of harvesting honey. Honey production really depends on what the bees find to eat, and whether that’s enough for them to make any extra as the average hive needs about 80 pounds of honey to make it through the winter. 80! See — I actually learned something in class last night.

I’ll let you know how the rest of the classes go.

bee good, bee happy

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Just a quick note: David and our good friend Coryndon have signed up for a beekeeping class at CCRI. Bees! My future garden is buzzing with happiness at the thought.

we see a bee | from hop on pop

The class is called Backyard Beekeeping and starts April 1 in Warwick. Still slots open if you want to join them.

Did you see in the New York Times this weekend that soon, raising honeybees will no longer be illegal?

New York City is among the few jurisdictions in the country that deem beekeeping illegal, lumping the honeybee together with hyenas, tarantulas, cobras, dingoes and other animals considered too dangerous or venomous for city life. But the honeybee’s bad rap — and the days of urban beekeepers being outlaws — may soon be over.

Good to see a major city come to its senses, especially since urban farmers have been raising bees on rooftops in defiance of the law for decades. This is just one more manifestation of a trend that’s been gaining momentum. Obviously we’re not the only ones who fear for the honeybees given their ever shrinking habitat and colony collapse disorder. Good thing.

David will let you know how the class goes, I’m sure. Or maybe you should take a class and find out firsthand!