Friday, February 17, 2012

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!


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