Category Archives: beekeeping

Do This in Winter If You Want to Start Keeping Bees This Spring

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

Halloween without Bees Would be Scary

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

Humorous Encounters Teaching Kids about Bees

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

Bee Chemotherapy – Part II

Have you noticed that whenever things don’t work out the way people want people frequently say, “Well, at least I learned a lot.”  “I learned a lot,” is a nice code phrase that lets people know that things didn’t go well at all but you are either choosing to be optimistic or you don’t want to share your problems with the world.  In Part I, I discussed how Doug and I were treating our bees with formic acid to lower the varroa mite levels.  In case you were wondering how things went with the treatment, all I can say is:  “Well, at least we learned a lot.” Continue reading

Bee Chemotherapy – Part I

All our bees are currently undergoing the beekeeping equivalent of chemotherapy.  In a previous post, I wrote about how our bees are infected with varroa mites.  (If you missed the post, you can reach it by clicking here.)  This week we treated  our eight hives with formic acid.  If you think beekeeping is all about singing sweetly to your bees while you happily collect honey, you would be wrong.  Sometimes beekeeping means you put on chemically resistant gloves and place acid inside your hives in the name of integrated pest management. Continue reading