The weather hasn’t been conducive to trips to the bee yard the past two weekends, but that doesn’t mean we’re not thinking of our bees. On days when the temperature in the garage has been above freezing, Hubby has been busy putting frames together in preparation for another year of growth in the apiary. I’ll help with the foundation just as soon as I get a break from grading, but as soon as I finish one batch of essays, students write the next batch. This will be the story of my life for the next couple of months, but I will go visit the bees next weekend!
Hubby has been reading a book about rearing better queens and one of the suggestions is to include frames with starter strips as comb that the bees draw “freeform” apparently leads to bigger queens. Old comb with all the cocoon remnants in cells can also negatively affect the size of queens — or the bees have to extend the queen cell out and float the egg into the larger area in a sea of royal jelly. All in all, we’re going to try some new things this spring. We’ve also been watching many videos on YouTube to get a variety of ideas. One guy we really like is Ian from Steppler Farms in Ontario. While he clearly has different weather conditions to us, his experiences are relevant most of the time. We missed this month’s Mid-State Beekeeper meeting this month because of a conflict with work, but we also really look forward to getting to the next one and learning more from people in our area. January’s presentation about fire-ants was enlightening and fascinating — and it will change the way we apply fire ant chemicals.
I’ve always noticed the first signs of spring, but now I notice them differently. That red haze around some maple-trees — that now means pollen and nectar! A dust of pollen on the car means bee food in addition to allergy flare-ups. Bee-keeping does indeed change us.
Before beekeeping, I would have seen the newly leveled area along our driveway as prime land for daylilies and maybe a rose bush or two. Now I have dreams of buckwheat and clover to provide early food for the bees. Instead of having a greenhouse full of tomato seedlings, I currently have basil, rosemary and lavender growing. These plants repel moths, mosquitoes, house-flies, and some beetles, so I plan to plant them around the new hive stands. Of course, they are also nectar and pollen sources and the rosemary and lavender repel snakes. That alone shows how much I’ve changed — protecting the hives has become more important than keeping snakes at bay. Of course, we haven’t seen a rattlesnake in a while, so my priorities might well change with the next sighting!
I don’t know which of us is more impatient to get out of the city, but I doubt the dog will need any more encouragement than the two of us next weekend. All the hives were active a couple of weeks ago, but we have no idea what’s going on inside them. My new pollen feeder was popular, so hopefully the queens have been ramping up production and all those frames in the garage will disappear into the new boxes that await paint. Spring is just about here and I can’t wait to get back to the bees!