Honeychick Homestead

Homestead, Health, and Happiness

Cosmo is Thriving!

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I am excited that Cosmo, the colony that was started from a nuc in June 2014, made it though the winter and is thriving this spring!

I haven’t looked at this colony for about three weeks. I’ve decided that I don’t want to disturb my colonies every week. Most things I’ve read recommend taking a look inside roughly every three weeks. I believe this is the recommendation for established colonies; new colonies typically require more frequent checks.

I try to observe my colonies from the outside at least one day each week, just to make sure nothing seems “off,” and that they are coming and going as expected, bringing in nectar and pollen, like they should be this time of year.

Before leaving for Maui, I wanted to check that they weren’t close to outgrowing their home and add a new box, if they needed mores space. If a colony gets to crowded it can sometimes encourage roughly half of the colony to leave or “swarm.”

Swarming is a reproductive process in which one colony splits to become two. The bees that leave take the old queen with them and the remaining bees are left with a soon to emerge virgin queen. When a colony is thriving, it can swarm more that one time in a season.

Swarming is different from absconding, when a colony absconds, the entire colony leaves with the queen. This is what happened to my Verbena colony in January 2015, after about 70% of that colony died. Absconding is not a reproductive process because all the bees leave, and the entire colony moves somewhere else. View the pictures →

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Zinnia is here!

My newest colony of bees arrived a few weeks ago and so far everything is going great! I had my handy, dandy assistant (husband), take some pictures of me installing this package and I’ll share them later in this post.

This year, I got my bee package from Mountain Feed because I’ve been very happy with the nuc I got from them last spring. This package of bees are the carnelion breed and I chose them because they are known for their disease resistance and gentleness. This breed is more likely to swarm if the run out of room but I’m not worried because I plan on giving them plenty of space to grow! You can read more about the different bee breeds and their qualities here.

The month of May has been unseasonable cool and it seems we’ve had more rain than in January…which honestly is great! Thankfully, the weekend I got these sweet bees, it was warm and not too windy.

This year, I picked put the package all by myself, which is kind of big deal because last year I was SO NERVOUS picking up my bees. I was very calm as I drove home with a box of 12,000 bees in my car!

Another thing I did alone was release the queen. I was still VERY nervous because I didn’t want her to fly away. Probably the most difficult thing was getting the bees surrounding her cage off so I could get her out. They were not happy that I was messing with their queen!  I had several bees buzzing angrily around my head as I focused on carefully getting her out!

Thankfully, I was more prepared with all the tools and things went really smooth. She jumped right into the hive box once I got her out of her cage. I didn’t get pictures of the process this year, but if you want to see me releasing “Lorde” the queen from Verbena hive, click here.

Now onto the cool part, pictures of me shaking 12,000 or so bees into their new home. Enjoy!! Continue reading


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Horray for Native Bees!

I’ve been paying more attention to the native bees in our orchard this year and it’s been really neat to watch all the different bees visit and pollinate the blossoms. Some are so tiny, I almost mistake them for a fly or gnat!

High Ground Organics is a local farm that I receive weekly updates from about their CSA offerings and other news of what’s happening around the farm. This week, they included this very cool article about a research study they participated in back in 2012.

I found it super interesting and thought it was “share-worthy” 🙂 Enjoy!

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