Sunday, April 24, 2016 was the day of my “Introduction to Beekeeping” at To Bee or Not To Bee. Once again a very energetic and entertaining teacher instructed novice beekeepers. Gregg McMahan of Rocky Mountain Bees was our mentor for the day and he had a jam packed one planned for us.
One of the first things he said was, “There will be no breaks, except of lunch, today. If you need a drink or the bathroom, just get up and excuse yourself.” Just so you know, the six hours of instruction was so full of information, I never could find a time I thought I could leave!
So we began. Bee Basics 101:
Bees are protein addicts, pollen is full of protein and thus bees collect it. Ounce for ounce pollen has more protein than any other food source. As an aside, did you know that bears aren’t after the honey? They are after the bees themselves. Being protein addicts, bees are full of it! The bears want the protein. A.A. Milne misled us all these years, we thought Winnie the Pooh was after the honey!
Bee venom is like cortisone and is used for arthritis pain relief. But bee venom also comes with high levels of allergic reactions. It is always good to have an Epi-pen on hand in case of anaphylactic shock in someone visiting your property.
You should always have extra hives available so you can receive a swarm during swarm season. This is the best way to get free bees!
Your hive should have bees of different color patterns.
In Colorado you MUST feed your bees. They are not native to this area and need extra food in the spring and fall. This includes sugar water (1:1) and pollen patties. Pollen patties give the bees supplemental pollen when there is none to be found in their area. If spring has sprung in the Rockies, you are guaranteed to have one last big snowfall. This is a time to feed pollen patties to your hive. The flowers in bloom will die and the new ones won’t be back out for a week or so. Your bees need pollen to survive so feeding them is very important.
Inspect your hives at least once every two weeks between 10 am and 2 pm. This needs to be done for the first couple of months and then you can inspect once a month. You are inspecting to make sure the full brood cycle is present on the frames.
The best place to locate a hive is: with the door facing east or west, an area that wind is blocked (or a wind block is made), morning sun, afternoon shade, and sun in the winter.
Start with one box and once that is ¾ full, add the second box to the hive.
Fat bees make it through winter. Feed your bees protein patties and sugar water in the fall.
So this was the first hour.
Now you see why my head wanted to explode and there was no chance of a potty break!
I want you to remember, for all of these posts… “5 beekeepers, 6 opinions”… by no means do I know it all, know a lot, or even know the basics yet, but I’ll keep learning and sharing what I’ve found out.
Thanks for following me on my journey.
This picture of my bees was taken 5/24/16, in this picture are eggs, larvae, and capped brood. Plus you can see the pollen they've stored up!