Bluestem Bees

I haven’t reported on our bees for a while.  Actually, they are doing very well in contrast to the horrifying reports of huge losses to so many other beekeepers.  I don’t really think it is our doing, maybe just good luck.  Joe pays closer attention to the hives than I do and neither of us are as diligent as we should be with logging our visits and what we find each time.  We have anywhere from 3 to 5 colonies at any one time and by the time we get done checking on all the “girls” I am hot and the bees are beginning to ping us in annoyance.  When we get back to the barn, we rack our brains to remember which colony had which situation and recording it all seems impossible.

Bees - June 6

The two tall hives in this picture made it through the winter and seem to be going strong.  The little “nuc” box next to them was one Joe split out last week because one of the colonies looked like it was building up to swarm.  It’s  a beekeeper’s task to read the signs and anticipate what the bees are going to do next to head off a loss due to half the hive swarming away.  Of course we also have to keep our eyes open for signs of disease, for a wimpy queen who is not doing her job, or problems with beetles, ants, mice, or those nasty little Varroa Mites.

Fortunately for us, we had a good teacher several years ago so we aren’t totally lost in the woods.  The grass is growing so fast that we could no longer see the entrance and the bees were having to navigate vertically to come home with the pollen and nectar.  Joe put down a strip of plywood to mash it down because mowing in front of their flight path is risky business.  The new landing pad seems to make them happy.  The nuc is still lost in the weeds but it may protect them from the potential robbers from next door.

These are the north hives and there is another older one down on the south side of the farm.  I’ve been hoping we could gradually phase that one out because it is closer to the pond and now and then I have had a nosey bee harass me as I walked around the pond.  One smacked me on the chin while I was waving it away last week and I was not happy with the swelled up welt that resulted.  It did not hurt so much as my hurt feelings that one of our girls would turn on me.  I would like to believe it was a yellow jacket instead of a honey bee, but it did look kind of furry.

Anyway, the south hive was infested with beetles and seemed kind of weak last fall, so I figured it would not make it through to spring.  Surprise, surprise, it is doing great now!  I really can’t complain about that when so many other people are struggling to keep their colonies alive.  I hope we can find time to harvest some honey soon.  We often make a big party of it and invite lots of friends to help but with the house being built and the move we have really had our hands full this year.

About bluestempond

Hobby farmer living at Bluestem Pond in Michigan.
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4 Responses to Bluestem Bees

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hi Nancy, Please don’t think of me as a “Nosy Parker” (but you probably know how OCD Beekeepers are about sharing information, right?; ) If you’d ever like to “talk” about the bees in more depth, you’ve already got my email, so just drop me a line, ‘k? (Like how to set up your little Nuc so she’s self-sufficient and not so susceptible to robbing; ) Cheers, Deb

  2. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Oh, and I also meant to ask…
    By “beetles”, do you mean Small Hive Beetles? We don’t have any experience with then here (yet): but I know they have been spotted just across the border in a couple of places here in Ontario.
    If so, it sounds like your hive has dealt with them successfully on their own… And that’s REALLY good to hear!: )

    • bluestempond says:

      (Slow reply, sorry.) Yes, they are small hive beetles, but they don’t really cause too much trouble if you have a strong hive. It’s the varroa mites that create havoc.

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Slow or not, at least you answered LOL!
        I recall hearing that initially bees would pick mites off of each other and then drop them where they could just climb back up on another bee… But, more recently, dead mites had been found with bite marks from bees agressive enough (or smart enough: ) to not only pick them off, but dispatch them as well… Now THAT’S my kind of honey bee (IMO, gentleness is highly over-rated; )

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