Newbees… Our first year of beekeeping

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We’ve been busying getting things at the new house how we want them; planting apple trees, blueberries, blackberries and other edibles.  Our chicken coop is set up and currently houses two bantam Welsummer hens who haven’t given us an egg in about three months!  They will be replaced this spring and we’re researching breeds to use as dual purpose, possibly the Basque heritage breed.

I might have added some beekeeping equipment to my Christmas wish list this year…  And Scott might have bought some of it 🙂

So I am the proud new owner of a hive tool, smoker, brush, frame lifter, jacket and veil!  Scott also got me a copy of The Beekeeper’s Handbook.

We dutifully sat down and watched six You-tube videos of bee school in Maine.  I think the total time it took was around 12 hours, including pausing and cross referencing our book.  We learned a lot – although we are sure they do things differently down in the South.

Here are links for anyone interested in watching:

Bee School – Episode 1

Bee School – Episode 2

Bee School – Episode 3

Bee School – Episode 4

Bee School – Episode 5

Bee School – Episode 6

We learned about the different components of a hive, installing a package or nuc, winter feeding, varroa mites and other pests, treatments, honey supers, workers, queens, drones, drone foundation for varroa mite management, swarming, how to start a smoker… just a ton of really good information.

We then proceeded to watch A Year in the Life of an Apiary, which is a series that was produced in the 90’s by the University of Georgia.  Some of the information on treatments is now outdated, but a lot of the info was really good (as well as applicable to our climate.)

Today we learned about small hive beetles from the University of Florida.

There is SO much information available online about beekeeping!  But we know that nothing replaces local contacts and mentors, so we’ll be attending our local beekeeping association’s meeting this week.

After doing more research, we found a semi-local breeder of Russian bees and ordered two nucs, which will be ready in April.  We’ve also placed an order for our hives, which should be here in a week or two!  I’m debating what colors to paint them in the meantime…

Will Christy kill all the bees?  Will there be any honey to be had?  Only time will tell…

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