Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cherokee Beekeepers Association

My Dad and I went to Athens, TN today for the Short Beekeeper's Course presented by the Cherokee Beekeepers Association.  It was an informative day and we met some local beekeepers.  They are very knowledgeable folks and friendly, too.  There was around 50 people in attendance! A representative of the Tennessee Beekeepers Association was there and gave a presentation about his organization.  The topics in the course included beekeeping safety, bee anatomy, hive placement, master gardening and Q&A.  I won a screened inner cover as one of the door prizes!  We joined both organizations today and will be trying to get to the meetings in Athens on the last Thursday in every month.

This is day 8 of the syrup experiment, and the bees still aren't having anything to do with it.  It was an up-and-down week this past week.  Thursday the high was 78F!  I saw leaves on weeping willow trees today.  Things are really starting to grow now in this part of the state.  I sure hope we don't get a big snow or a hard freeze to kill everything!

Monday, February 20, 2012

President's Day

Nary a cloud in the sky today.  Sunny and 55 F.  The bees are buzzing in and out of the hive.  Day 3 of the syrup and they haven't touched it yet.  I did notice little red flowers opening up on some of the trees.  I believe it's wild cherry tree blossoms.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Experimenting with Sugar Water

I decided to do an experiment this afternoon.  The bees have been bringing in lots of pollen on the days they're flying.  So I mixed up some 1:1 sugar water and put it out this evening to see if they'd be interested.  I added a little Honey B Healthy so it would smell good and maybe attract them better.  I saw one sniffing around it already.  Maybe tomorrow they'll all be on it.  Or, maybe they won't be interested in it.  We'll see.

It was sunny and 63F today and the wind was 6 to 8 mph out of the NE.

First Post

Welcome to Greg's Bee Adventure where hopefully by the end of the year, we'll have bunches of bees and bunches of honey.

We're located on the eastern shore of Watts Bar Lake, beside Hornsby Hollow Campground in Meigs County in eastern Tennessee.  I guess that's why the honey will be called Hornsby Hollow Honey.  (That way I only have to remember one letter - H.)

A guy I did a job with back in August 2011 gave me five frames of bees in exchange for five new frames without bees.  I thought that was a pretty good trade for me.  Of course, I had to buy a couple of supers and other frames for the bees to have a place to live and hopefully make it through the winter (more about that a little later).

I ordered 2 10-frame deeps and plastic frames from Brushy Mt. Bee Farm in North Carolina (the guy I got the bees from recommended them).  I don't have any woodworking tools (or skills for that matter), so I bought them pre-assembled.  Living out the rural America like we do, our UPS guy makes regular trips to our house, so the hives arrived soon with no trouble.  Soon after that, I had five frames of bees living in my own yard.  From what I've learned, August isn't the best time to be doing splits (that's what breaking up a hive is called).  I had to feed the bees a mixture of 2 parts sugar to one part water to make a syrup.  They were in the process of making more comb (their home for the winter), making honey (their food for the winter) and they also had to make a queen (to make more bees), as the queen wasn't part of the 5-frame deal.  But, a normal part of being a bee is to make a queen when the current one gets old and doesn't produce, dies, or something else goes wrong with the queen.  Luckily, I had been given good frames with eggs, larva, pupa and bees, so I had all the right things to make a queen.

I fed the bees the syrup until it turned cold and they wouldn't take it (they don't fly much or eat much when it gets below 50F.

Bees lined up at the syrup trough.
This is a slit in a zip-lock bag full of syrup.

When it got too cold for the syrup, I put 8 lbs of sugar on some newspaper in the top of the hive and put an empty super around it so the bees would have an emergency supply of food if they needed it (and if they could get up to it).

Sugar on Newspaper and Pollen Patty

Sugar on Newspaper and Pollen Patty

I also put on a mouse guard on the hive entrance to keep those pesky pests out of that dry, warm hive.

I've checked the hive a couple of times recently, and there's a lot of activity around when it's a warm day.  Yesterday and today are sunny and in the 60s F.  I tried to make a short video of the bees flying in and out carrying pollen.

This morning I went out and removed the mouse guard, as it was causing traffic congestion for the bees, and I think it's warm enough that the mice can live in the woods and weeds now.

So, that's the initial blog.  Hopefully I'll be adding some pictures and be writing about more adventures as the spring progresses and things start blooming around here.

Thanks for stopping by!