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Spring Bees, Chapter 2

June 13, 2016

Last spring I decided to add a bee hive to the mix and dove in head first.
I built a hive (a Kenyan top bar hive) and then installed a “package” of bees in April. The bees started off drawing crooked comb, and apparently I made it worse in my efforts to fix it. By late May I figured out that I had lost the queen (likely killed when comb detached from a top bar and smushed her); it was too late to do anything about it and the colony was doomed.

I’ve not had much failure when trying new things in the garden, and losing a colony of bees mostly due to my errors was quite discouraging. I wasn’t sure I’d try it again, ever.

By the end of last year I had decided to try again, but to do it in a more logical and “normal” way. I attended a seminar @ The Atlanta Botanical Garden in January and read everything I could. Also, I decided to go the “Langstroth” hive route (the traditional bee boxes with removable frames) since equipment and local experience/expertise were much more readily available. I reserved bees for late March pick up and the bee clock was officially ticking.

I had to decide where to place the hives in the yard and prepare the area to protect curious pets and provide a safe viewing area visiting neighborhood children. Up came the old rice paddy and the two giant beds (16×4) and soon I had a “bee corral” ready to go.

Mayhem, making room for bees

Mayhem, making room for bees

Salvaged carpet ground cover/ beetle barrier

Salvaged carpet ground cover/ beetle barrier

I picked up two “nuc” starter hives in late March and installed them in my newly constructed bee corral (I mulched over the carpet of course, and netting is suspended below rails to keep small dogs from getting too close.)
I wasn’t pleased with what I got (3 frames vs the 5 frames pictured on the web page of the place where I purchased them) but I was stuck and tried to make the best of things. Note: I decided on the advice of several seasoned beekeepers to start with two colonies; this allows more flexibility in boosting a weak or struggling hive.

Nucs ready for installation into the new hive boxes

Nucs ready for installation into the new hive boxes

Skinny nucs 3 frames of brood + 2 empty frames

Skinny nucs 3 frames of brood + 2 empty frames

A lot of mostly good things have occurred since then; future posts will reveal how these two small starter hives have become four active colonies.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Roswell permalink
    June 13, 2016 8:29 am

    I’m glad you revived this blog. I can’t wait to hear more. 🙂

    • June 13, 2016 9:14 am

      Good to hear from you Ros- hope you are well.
      We’ll see if I can keep it up but 3 posts this week is more than the entire posting activity from the previous 12 months lol

  2. Rhonda Bramlette permalink
    June 14, 2016 7:01 pm

    Just found your blog and am really enjoying reading about your backyard adventures! Looking forward to more posts.

  3. June 14, 2016 9:14 pm

    Once again…. I love it. So, did you do splits or did your hives swarm? Four from two… that’s pretty rad.

    • June 15, 2016 8:36 am

      Swarms almost immediately – part of what I was not pleased with with these nucs was that they had been crowded too aggressively and swarms were a given.

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