An Evolving World View or Indolence?

It is soooo cold, and I am soooo worried about the bees. It’s so cold that the 2 liters of Coke we lazily left on the deck EXPLODED last night. See? I am just too lazy to be a good beekeeper. Those girls put me to shame. Sometimes I wonder if my newly forming beekeeping philosophy is a reflection of my evolving world view or if it’s a sign of slothfulness…it’s easier not to requeen than to requeen and not to treat for mites than to treat for them and not to manage the space to avoid swarming than to manage it.

Anyway, I have not yet reduced the size of the opening to the bees’ hives, so today I think I’ll trudge out through the snow and put the entrance reducer in place. Maybe that’ll help them stay warmer. Because they sure as hell haven’t stored enough food for the calories required to keep their temperatures up in this January weather. I am a bad beekeeper. I’ll bet my hat we lose the weaker of the two hives.

Swarm On

The bees’ primary biological drive is to swarm. I read it this morning in Bee Culture magazine, and the moment I read it, it seemed right. Reader, if you’re new to bees, you’ll want to learn that when bees get too crowded in a hive, they raise a second queen. Once the new queen is ready to take on her new job, the old queen leaves the crowded hive with half of that colony’s bees, and they go find a new home. This move is called swarming. The new queen stays back in the established hive and takes on the job of producing more bees. One of our two colonies came to us as a result of a captured swarm.

Bees ensure their species’ survival by swarming…think of it as teenagers leaving home and getting their own apartments. Many beekeepers manage their hives to keep their bees from swarming, because once those bees leave, honey production decreases. I am of a mind to let them swarm. How about that…I am developing a beekeeper philosophy.

Junking Up the Place

I mean, if you already have two hives, what’s the big deal about adding a third, right? That’s what I’m thinking. I’ve been watching some YouTube videos about beekeeping (to which I will probably contribute once I know something), and some of those people have piles of hives in small spaces. There’s one guy in particular whom I like a lot…he’s from South America or Cuba or Mexico, I think…I can’t quite figure out where he’s keeping his bees, but in some of his videos his hives are crazy tight and hilariously high, and something about that appeals to me.

But Deb tells me that I can’t keep my third and future hives on the hill behind our house with our other two. She doesn’t want it looking like a junk yard back there. She said maybe I should find a farm and put them there. I’m thinking I can hide them behind the garage.

Here’s a brief “How to Smoke Bees” video starring my new favorite beekeeper…for some reason, I call him “Santiago.” I love this one because of the pink or lavendar pick-up truck parked near these hives. Aren’t we having fun with this?!


UPDATE: Okay, so I’ve learned that this beekeeper’s name is Jorge Gomez, and he keeps his bees in Austin, TX. Which is where my parents live! And I’m in Austin several times each year! I’m gonna make it a point to find Jorge Gomez and visit with him.

Stay Warm, Please

See those black cardboard boxes on yesterday’s post? The ones I used to cover the hives? Not only do those boxes add a layer of insulation, but the blackness absorbs the little sunlight we have here in the Ohio River Valley…and that keeps the bees warmer. My hope is that the warmer they are, the less food they need to eat…because it takes food to make enough energy to stay warm. Hang with me, girls.