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Bee Careful (That is the only pun)

Brood

Brood

When we first took on this grand project we never thought about bees. We had our hands full with the restoration and construction involved in getting the building back to its former glory. During this time we were able to start the outside projects we wanted to do. Bees never even entered our minds. I mean, Heidi wanted chickens, goats, and a big garden. I want a garage to restore cars (starting with my 66 mustang). Heidi talked about how much better the garden would do if there were bees around. I googled a bit about bees. The thing that kept popping up was the decrease in the bee population in the country and the need for new bee keepers. I told Heidi I would be willing to go to a bee class to see if it was something we might do.

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Finished and painted

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Ready to build

We spent a few hours at a very high level class. It sounded interesting so we signed up for the bee school (4 three hour classes). After it was all said and done Heidi wasn’t really interested in doing it herself but said she would support me if I wanted to keep bees.  I ordered the equipment and supplies I would need to start two hives. I got on the waiting list for 2 nucs (bee nucleus, small hive after a split). This is like a mini hive and would give me the best chance at not killing my first hive of bees.

Long story short, I discovered the bee math is identical to chicken math. My plan was to start with two hives. Now our backyard has 30 chickens, 2 goats and 4 bee hives. My goal is to help them have plenty of honey stores to make it through the winter. Based on averages from other bee keepers I will be happy if I make it to spring with at least two hives.

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Hives 2 and 3

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Hives 1 and 4

I was surprised at how interesting and complex bees are. Seeing how their society works and what they do is amazing. They can keep their home at exactly the temperature they want better than our heat pump can. If something happens to their queen they will raise a new one in a matter of days. When they are not able to get enough food stores they will manipulate the queen to stop her from laying eggs. The life span of a regular bee is about 6 weeks. In winter they will live for months. Their hive constantly adjusts to the environment.

For me, this is probably the oddest project I have ever tried. Now to answer some of the questions I have been asked.

  1. No, I am not crazy.
  2. The bees are close to the house but aren’t a danger to us or the animals.
  3. The bees don’t scare me. I don’t get nervous when they are swarming around me.
  4. To date, I have been stung twice on my hands when I wasn’t wearing gloves. I was feeding them and was willing to risk the exposure.
  5. I didn’t know if I had been stung the first time for a few hours and noticed the swelling. I thought I had hit the edge of a piece of wire. The second time it itched the second and third day.
  6. Next summer I hope to have honey.
  7. I hope to double to 8 hives next year and place some in other locations.

Maybe next year we will have Dragon Run Honey for sale. That would be sweet. (Sorry couldn’t resist one more pun)adding-super inspecting

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