Sunday, September 9, 2012

A less testie, positive update

It was definitely time to makes some changes. After experiencing the wrath of some aggressive bees, I realized that it would be much more beneficial to attempt and recognize the bees' needs. During this time, there are few flowers blooming in my neighborhood, and even though bees have been busy during the day, they had yet to draw out any more of the frames after three weeks. It is painfully obvious that what I was doing was just not working.

Last Monday for labor day, I echoed my dad's efforts in picking up some essential oils. I found them at Whole Foods. Following the Fatbeeman, who can be found online and on Youtube, offers several remedies for bee woes with natural essential oils. To combat mites to ramping up growth, there are ways to approach challenges in the bee cycle. This cycle can refer to either stage of hive development, bee health, or the seasonal availability of certain nutrients.

A preventative to mite infestation, I picked up some Wintergreen food grade oil. It rant me about $7.99 for a .5 mL bottle. For more anti-fungal and anti-bacterial defense I found some tea tree oil. There was a range of availability and I picked up the largest bottle I could find for $13.99. The last bottle I found was for lemongrass essential oil which is suppose to spur growth and honey flow instincts in the bees-- it was about $6.99 I believe for a .5 mL bottle.

Before I ordered the hive and got started, I did some research and so many stated that the plastic frames were the most beneficial. Additionally, the black foundation was suggested by several sources. The lady I picked the bees up from and another local beekeeper said they "hate the plastic" and that they may never draw it out. This worried me until I saw the drawing out of the black plastic today. I think this is due to the feeding that I did with the essential oils.

I would have pictures, but I am completely out of batteries. Will have to pick some up. They have been going threw a pint jar of the feed mixed 2-1 ratio of sugar to water and a drop of each of the three essential oils per day. Given that this has only led to two frames being drawn out on one side and about 30-40%, they are being filled with pollen which shows the queen is laying a lot.

While going through the frames I was able to see large worm like brood, eggs, and pollen. I wore my glasses to try and see better. I even spotted the queen for the first time. She was dragging her fat behind across the back of a frame. She scurried around and I was quite pleased to see her. The queen was not a pretty shade of any color, rather she was almost completely black, with splattered spots of yellow and orange. Next time I will mark her and take pictures.

I can conclude that one must take time to understand the bees if they intend to manage them. Even if they plan to be a simple beekeeper, one must provide what is needed until nature is able to provide that component of health. They argument that bees will adjust and provide for themselves, which is the "hands-off" method may lead to poor health, yields, or even the loss of a colony in times of dearth. The feeding may have also contributed to a taming of the bees, as well.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Beehive... homestead update

It has been just over two weeks since I started beekeeping and so far it's been pretty good. I would say great; however, there are few blooms in my yard so I do not get to see the impact of my new addition. I do not see bees visiting the few blooms I do have in the garden either. The watermelon, Star Apple and Gefner Atemoya are going unpollinated. The two trees usually are pollinated by some kind of beetle, but I suppose bees could help.. eh. I will add that the cantaloupe melon that I planted randomly from seed had quite a few set fruit, but this dry heat is killing everything.

I am not a weather man, but I know Florida is suppose to be wet. Instead, this summer has consisted of two to three days of heavy rain 3-4 weeks dry. It's not what I am used to, and everything has suffered. The citrus tree leaves have been burned, same with many other plants. The fruiting vines have disintegrated. The raspberries, though in the shade, have take a beating, and withered down to brown fragile stalks.  And my garden beds are still solarizing. So it is difficult to name anything that I am excited about watching grow in the back. Even the seeds I started three weeks ago, disintegrated.. well the seedlings did. This is not something that can be controlled by more watering. This creates an ill-effect as the water seems to intensify the drying of the soil. It is as if the moisture magnifies the sun's intensity.

And back to the bees... The are getting testy. I will update later, but they seemed to be stressed about something, maybe will put some water out for them and see if they need some kind of moisture in the hive.... tough when there are no mentors willing to help a guy out. As for papa bear's hive, we did the transfer today( driving halfway each to meet up early in the morning.

The closing off of his hive was almost impossible. Hundreds of bees were hanging on the entrance this morning at 5 AM in complete darkness let only by the rays of moonlight shining through the startfuit tree. Thinking it couldn't be done I reached down for some primal cave man courage and swiped them away from the entrance and plugged it immediately. I duct taped all the cracks and used ratchet tie-downs to secure all parts together. Driving over two hours early in the morning wasn't bad, but keeping the car cold as ice so not to over heat the bees, was numbing.

 After waking up every morning much earlier than I have been used to since I was a swimmer in college, is frying my conscience. I am ready to get these garden beds back together and start growing again. Despite some of these set backs I must say that I am extremely grateful for my good fortune and cannot express enough gratitude for the blessings I have been given. Everything I describe, all the successes and failures are a pleasure. I just hope I can keep my eyes, mind, and heart open to the lessons in each adventure that awaits me.