Things in Bee World have been a little quiet. We’ve had other distractions — birthday parties, out-of-town relatives coming to visit, and, the biggest distraction of all, working to pay the bills. But here’s what’s happened in the last few days.
The lower deep hive body — the brood chamber, and the upper deep hive body — the food chamber, have been painted with milk paint in the most beautiful shade of sky blue. The shallow honey supers are painted a lighter shade of blue. The cinder block foundation for the hive has been set level into the ground. Mary Beth chose this location because it’s near the garden and a water source, facing south so the rising sun wakes the bees.
Mary Beth ordered the things she forgot in the first round. (I have a feeling that’ll happen a few more times before we get it all figured out.) The big oops was neglecting to order the foundation pins. They’re what she’ll need to hold the wax foundations in the frames. The bees will build them out with their combs which will hold the honey and the baby bees. (Larvae really, but baby bees sounds so much cuter.)
And, yes, those of you who actually know what you are doing will probably have noticed that she ordered the wrong size foundations for the supers, so the right ones are in this order, along with a hive tool and some Honey B Healthy, a feeding stimulant.
MB: That brings us to the next important detail — what will the bees use for sustenance? Since I have new hives and it’s early spring, the bees won’t have any stored honey for food and it’ll be too early for flower nectar. So I’m going to feed them sugar water until nectar begins to flow. And to keep the hive as healthy as possible in this first year, I probably won’t harvest any honey, leaving it instead for the bees to eat. On average a hive can produce about 100 pounds of honey, but this is my first year so who knows? The hive will need 60 to 80 pounds of honey to survive the winter and tide the bees over until the nectar begins to flow the following spring. Anything beyond that will be ours to enjoy and share with friends and family. And believe me, they’re already lining up.
And speaking of how much honey weighs, lifting the supers won’t be easy. A medium super can weigh in at 50 to 60 pounds and I’m definitely going to need help. I may have to get a bee suit for Ray. (Shh! I haven’t told him yet.)
In the meantime, I’ve been working in the gardens. I’ve planted 3 kinds of carrots, 2 varieties of chard, spinach, broccoli, watercress, arugula, onions, leeks and 3 kinds of lettuce. I used some old windows over the raised beds for makeshift cold frames to get things going. I also got my indoor flats set up with grow lights and a heating pad. Mmm, I can smell and taste those tomatoes already!
As I opened the seed packets and started the tedious task of planting, I remembered helping my father prepare the gardens for the coming season when he no longer had the strength to do it himself. He dug the first of these garden beds more than 40 years ago and they were his pride and joy. He taught me so much as I worked in the dirt beside him. It feels good to carry his legacy on another year and to relive those happy memories. I know he would’ve been as excited as we are about adding a hive to his gardens. He would have enjoyed watching the bees. The garden will make the bees happy, and the bees will make these gardens happy!