Whoever said raising bees was easy obviously didn’t know what they were talking about. Maybe nobody said it, maybe it was the interpretation I put on what they said. Regardless, it isn’t easy.
Since my bees were given to me, I didn’t have to worry about selecting one of the different breeds. Italian, Russian, Carniolan, Buckfast, Caucasion, etc. If you want low productivity and low swarm potential get these, if you want nice bees get these, if you want high productivity but need to check for swarming, get these. If you are a newbie get these, unless you live here, then get these, unless you don’t want those, then get these. Like I said, I just received bee with the label “free”. Seemed like the best type to start.
Once I started, I needed to decide on a hive type. Generally, there is one major accepted type of hive used by 90% of the beekeepers out there….so that decision was easy. But wait, I had to decide what type of “foundation” to insert in the hive for the bees to build their home. Again I was faced with a multitude of choices; with every person I talked to having a totally different reason why x is better than y. I found out my local shop carries only one type…another problem easily solved.
After 3 weeks I opened the hive back up to take a look at all the wonderful activity (with my new fancy suit on I might add). They all looked back up at me like I had just interrupted a viewing session of American Idol. Nothing…no new honey, no new babies, no new pollen. After a frantic few hours searching the internet and posting pleas for help on every bee forum, the news came back the same….they are hungry. No one told me I had to keep feeding my bees…aren’t they the ones supposed to be feeding me honey? I thought after the first application of syrup I was done. :-) Another trip to the local bee supply store yielded a new feeder, a jar of pollen, and recipe for sugar syrup. Feeding commences. Now they seem happy. Ok, not sure about happy, but at least busy.
My wife took pictures yesterday since they are now coming and going like Grand Central Station. She takes great pictures, and is able to zoom in nice and close to see all the details you miss as they are flying past you. What is that on the bee? Turns out it is a mite. A mite? Another lesson in beekeeping is these little creatures can get mites, kind of like a tick we all hate so much. Now it’s time to go back to the store and buy a special treatment to get rid of the mites. In my research I have found there are about 12 different things the bees can “catch” which I need to watch for and be ready to treat. My dogs get one shot a year and sprayed with flea and tick spray once…but bees obviously take much more treatment.
I am one month into my new hobby, and so far I have realized keeping bees is far more complicated than raising some carrots in the garden. Am I discouraged? Not yet. As a matter of fact, I think next spring I will get my second hive. I figure two hives will help me learn (aka make mistakes) twice as fast.
Until next time….