Honeychick Homestead

Homestead, Health, and Happiness


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First Year Beekeeping Lessons Learned

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One of my bees enjoying some honey last summer.

Last February, I excitedly decided to give beekeeping a try. Two months later, I was bringing home my first package of bees! You can read more about that fun day here.

If you’re interested in giving beekeeping a try, this time of year is a perfect time to do your research, and if you decide to go for it, to get your supplies. You can read about how much my first year supplies cost here. It’s easy to find packages of bees for sale via a web search, or contact a local bee guild for bees from your local area.

Speaking of bee guilds, I highly recommend finding out if you have a local beekeeping guild. This website has a comprehensive list, however I didn’t see my local guild. If you don’t see your area listed, do a web search for your city or counties name with “beekeepers guild” after it. Another important thing is to check your city ordinances. Many cities and counties allow beekeeping but may require a permit.

I’ve learned a lot my first year! I hope you find this post helpful and it encourages you to give beekeeping a try! Continue reading


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To Bee, or Not to Bee

 

The bees from Verbena colony finishing up a pollen patty this past October

The bees from Verbena colony finishing up a pollen patty just a couple of months ago.

Earlier this week, I experienced my saddest day as a beekeeper. About, ninety percent of my Verbena colony died. I found myself suddenly scrambling to keep the remaining bees alive! It was not a happy way to end my first year as a beekeeper  😦

Heading into winter, I thought Verbena would be my “strong” colony. I got this colony in April of last year, you can read more about their first day on the homestead here.

Before leaving for Germany for thymus and stem cell therapy, I left both colonies with enough food to last two weeks. When I got home in mid-October, they had eaten it all up, so I fed them more!

At the November bee guild meeting, the mentors suggested it was time to stop feeding so the colonies could reduce in size, just like they do nature. I was a bit nervous about doing this but figured the mentors knew more than a “new-bee” like me did.

The bee guild members, and several books I’ve read said that starvation, or mites are usually the cause of a new colony dying off during the winter. Another concern can be moisture inside the boxes, this can happen during our rainy, wet winters.

To help counteract moister entering the hive, they recommend slightly tilting the boxes of the colony forward so any water that entered would easily run out the front entrance. They also recommended building an “awning” to keep the colony dry.

My awesome husband got busy building a very sturdy, “awning” for each colony, and we had them on before any major rain hit our area. Here’s a picture of the colonies with their “awnings” on top of the boxes.  The bricks on top help keep it from being blown off during windy weather. Continue reading


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What’s up with “Bee-yonce?”

Yes, I’m still beekeeping! There has been activity outside both colonies everyday since I returned from Germany, and that is a good sign! I haven’t checked inside the colonies since I got home. I plan on taking one last peek this Sunday. After that it will be too cold to check on them again until spring.

Here are some pictures of what’s been happening with the Cosmo hive and their queen, Bee-yonce over the summer. This colony was started late in the season because the beekeeper providing these bees had an issue with the queens. We finally got a picture of Beeyonce during the August hive check 🙂

Continue reading


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Beware of Robbers!

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A cool picture of Cosmo colony “bearding” because it got to hot inside!

Yep, you read that right, robbers! Robbing is something I had no idea I’d need to be concerned about as a beekeeper. Bees from other colonies attempt to rob weak and/or new colonies of their honey stores. Robbing season usually begins in mid to late summer, and/or during droughts. Feeding bees can also encourage robbing, this is why I cover my top pail feeder with a box, it helps reduce the potential for robbing.  Continue reading


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I’m a Newbee!

That’s what the Santa Cruz Beekeepers Guild call first time beekeepers. I’m THRILLED that I’ll be getting my very own bees soon! Having a local beekeepers guild is proving to be a terrific resource for this beginner. I attended their monthly meeting a couple weeks ago, and it gave me the confidence I needed to take the plunge. During the meeting, they explained in detail how to get a package of bees into a new hive. In addition to monthly meetings, the guild has mentors who help those of us just getting started.

Several mentors recently held “bee show and tells” at their homes for the newbees. I was able to see all three types of bees: drones, workers and the queen. I never knew drones were bigger and couldn’t sting! I also got to see various stages of the hive, including one that was dripping honey….YUM! I learned some beekeeping terminology, like brood, and I saw the different stages of brood. I even got to see some new baby bees hatching! I held frames full of bees. I was shocked the mentors and some newbees didn’t wear gloves when working with the hives!  Hopefully, someday I’ll have that confidence too!  In the meantime, I’ll be wearing my jacket, hood, and gloves when I’m checking my hives.

Here’s a couple pictures I took during the show and tell. Continue reading