Winter is the nervous season for beekeepers. December is the month that I prepare to celebrate Christmas and the month that I begin to obsess about whether our bees are alive or dead. My anxieties were further fueled this month when another Kentucky beekeeper posted on Facebook that she found one of her colonies had died. What was happening to our bees? The bees’ unknown condition continuously stoked my anxiety. Continue reading
Hobby beekeeping has become extremely popular. Lately honey bees have been getting more press than the Kardashians, and suddenly it is fashionable to keep bees. Even mainstream stores like Tractor Supply now sell bees and beekeeping equipment. (I know some of you may not consider Tractor Supply mainstream, but it is a much bigger retailer than the niche beekeeping supply stores. If you think pole beans, country ham and cornbread make a great dinner, you will most likely agree that Tractor Supply is a mainstream retailer.) Beekeeping can be daunting. The initial set up expense to buy the basic equipment and bees will be at least $500. Next you need to know what to do when a 3 lb package of bees arrives at your door step. The best time to prepare to be a beekeeper is in the winter when you don’t have bees. I have prepared a list for anyone thinking about starting beekeeping for the first time. Do these things over the winter, and you will maximize your chances for a successful first year. Continue reading
Temperatures have fallen and the bees are clustered keeping the queens warm. We have done all we can do for our bees to help them through winter, so now we just have to wait for spring. Now with free time on my hands, I turned to a new project….learning how to make fruitcake. Continue reading
One of the great features of having a WordPress website is that you can see which search terms lead people to your website. The search terms are a helpful way to find out what interests readers. I wrote a post in July 2018 about how I was using a topical beeswax salve to manage my eczema. (Click here if you haven’t read the original post.) That post must have resonated with people because every month people are finding my site because of that post. Here is the update on how things are going for me and my skin 16 months later. Continue reading
Snow is covering the ground here, and the bees are all clustered around their respective queens keeping them warm for the winter. Just before the really cold weather hit, Doug installed quilt boxes and inserted winter patties into each hive. Quilt boxes contain burlap and wood shavings that can absorb condensation. Moisture is a killer of bees in the winter. The bee cluster stays about 80 degrees F, and moisture can condense on the inner cover of the hive. The quilt box catches the condensation instead of letting it drip back onto the bees. Most of our bees have lots of stored honey, but the winter patties are an extra source of nutrition just in case they need it. Since the bees are all snuggled in for the winter, I decided to write about what I have been doing to transform my flower garden into a monarch waystation.
My social media feed is currently full with pictures of friends helping their kids carve jack-o-lanterns. I have fond childhood memories of sitting on the kitchen floor and carving jack-o-lanterns. Mom put newspaper down in an attempt to keep the pumpkin carnage off her cabinets and counter tops. Dad did the knife work and tried to faithfully carve out the designs my brother and I drew on the pumpkins with a marker. I was allowed to “scoop out the guts” which is what we called the seeds and stringy inside flesh. Who doesn’t love a happy jack-o-lantern on the front porch in October? Pumpkins have come to symbolize fall, but this fall tradition would not be possible without bees. Continue reading
One of my favorite things to do is to teach kids about honey bees. Our local bee club makes outreach a priority, and we receive many requests each year to give presentations at schools, scout meetings, and church groups. I have had the opportunity to participate in many of those outreach events and all I can say is, “God bless all of you public school teachers!” Keeping a group of young kids focused on what you are trying to teach is about as easy as getting a honey bee that flew up your pant leg to go back down. (By the way, it is impossible to get a honey bee to go back down your pant leg. That’s why it is a good idea wrap something around your pants legs to keep the bees out when you are working the hives. One of my fellow beekeepers calls it the Honey Bee Hoedown when a bee flies up a person’s pants.) In this week’s post, I thought I would give you a flavor of what it is like to teach a classroom full of kids about bees. Continue reading