This winter we had a pet hive sitting on the dock and buried in the snow. I think the signage to the left has a little extra meaning in this case ("Bee Keeper Parking Only: All Others Will Be Stung"):
This hive was a random bunch of bees collected from inside the building last fall. There are always several pounds of bees that accumulate during the extracting season. The fun part was that dad dropped in a queen cell from a honey box, and she actually emerged and mated. Even with a good queen on hand, these late season efforts at bonus hives don't often work--the bees are usually too old to endure winter, and there's normally not enough time to squeeze in a couple of brood cycles. Anyway, it was a success this time, and there were two boxes of bees inside when spring drew near and the snow was melting away.
There have been a few times over the years when trees have posed a threat to a hive or two. This tree wound up covering most of the yard:
It took quite a bit of chainsaw work to liberate the bees. The good news? None of the equipment actually got destroyed when it came down. There were branches everywhere and a lot of inconvenience, but at least the true damage was quite limited.
My heart fell a bit when I saw that one of the hives had been tipped backwards:
Luckily, even the tipped hive ended up surviving. It was a bit light, but its open-air experience didn't prove fatal. Since this happened sometime in late winter, I'm not sure how long it sat in such a vulnerable condition. The landowner had been in Florida for a couple of weeks, so no one had a close eye on the bees during that time. In any case, it was a relief to restore the hive to its bottom board and find them alive under the lid. Hopefully they will multiply to the extent that it will provide a split as well!
Today was the happy day that arrives every spring when I get to see lots of pollen carriers coming into the hives for the first time. There has probably been quite a bit of action in the past few days, but I just got to see it underway this afternoon. And so, here is a gratuitous pollen moment that I must always share at least once a year!
There are a number of reasons why the earlier pollen sightings are important: 1) the weather is favorable enough for the pollen to appear and for bees to collect it; 2) warm weather and pollen gathering stimulate vital brood production; 3) new bees will bring higher vigor; 4) strong brood production promotes a successful hive splitting season for colony increases in April and May.
For all of these reasons, I am pleased. Tomorrow I will hope to visit more hives before a rather damp week descends upon us.
At the Mount Vernon location I moved to in early 2014, there are two honey buildings taking shape. One was the leaky-roofed shed that I put a metal roof on and featured in an earlier post. It did come with a floor anyway. Here is how the interior started:
Now I've got it setup with heat, water, and a proper electrical box that can handle a decent load. Here's the insulation phase (after framing up the interior with stud walls and windows):
I'll make a video of the finished interior sometime soon.
At the same time, I also needed to get a floor into the larger steel building where I store equipment. Life is much better now that it no longer involves so much lime and dirt. Here is a picture of my happy transformation going up on 1/2" rebar:
In the last photo of the day, I rented a little mini-loader with a trenching attachment from my local ACE to tile in the drains. My own skid steer unfortunately doesn't have the auxiliary connections built out on the frame:
Anyway, I just thought I'd share those pics from the endeavors of last summer and fall! I'm thinking this year will be more manageable now that things are decently operational--though there is certainly still plenty to accomplish!
The bees are all fed, so I'm finally getting around to transferring a bunch of old pictures from my old smartphone. I came across some photos that I took at the Biltmore Estate (near Asheville) last summer when Alex and I traveled to North Carolina for one of his athletic competitions.
For any who are unfamiliar, the Biltmore house and estate are rather massive. One of the Vanderbilts constructed this modest little home in the late 1800s.
It's very nice to see that there are also Biltmore bees on the mighty estate They have even provided a kind cautionary notice for people who might brave a closer look!
I suppose I was probably more intrigued by the Biltmore bees than most people who stumble across them, but I found it all quite amusing! It's worth the visit!
Back in Charlotte, we also dropped in to enjoy one of the local Tupelo Honey Cafe locations--delicious!
Perhaps one day our little man Andrew will check out these places too! Here he is a few months ago in an admirable bee bib