|The swarm that started it all!|
With the hope of ending 2016 a bit stronger than this last year (hopefully by tripling our hive count), this is the time of year when we have to do some planning. Of course, we plan the best way to split hives – there are a couple ways to do that. We plan the best strategy for watching out for and dealing with swarm cells, when the hives get too big and decide they want to make a new queen that will then take most of the young, strong bees to a new hive. Swarms are also a means for us to grow our yard, though, because when a swarm, either feral or from another bee yard does a surprise landing in some stranger’s back yard, we can go out and gather it up. It was a stray swarm landing in our yard four years ago that made us start this journey in the first place. We will be trying some ‘split hives’ where we put a divider right into the hive, like a bee condominium, with queens in each side. This allows them to keep the hive warm yet, and gives them a chance to get established without having to start completely from scratch. We will do a blog on this as we get into actually doing it.
|Early hive activity 2016.|
|While it might be right that these plants are|
protected from unwanted pests, they fail to
mention how deadly they are to pollinators.
|One of our bees on an apple blossom.|
The final consideration in choosing plants is blooming season. We want our bees to eat for as long as possible, but sometimes there are dry spells in a season where not much is happening, at least as far as flowers are concerned. Living in a rural community, we can count on the alfalfa and clover to provide for them throughout the summer and fall. We know that corn crops will do nothing, but berry crops will be wonderful in the spring. Of course, the orchards need bees, and our bees need fruit trees, so we have that one covered, at least for this year. We need to find plants, like primula, that will bloom early in the year, and some, like goldenrod, that bloom late. The value of the plants to the bees also will vary because of geographic location and anomalies, so it’s all a learning curve, but we’re more than happy to experiment to see what we like, and what our bees like.
It goes without saying that there are many more things to think about and plan for, like keeping the bees healthy, and the need for water, but at this time of year, these are the priorities in our bee yard.
|BooBoo Bear was just a little guy last year, but even when little|
these guys can do a lot of damage to a hive.