It feels like forever since I posted about our bees. The last time was back in August and before that it was May. Having a little person in the house again meant that while Jamey was making regular summer visits and adjustments to the hives, I wasn't able to be out there to photograph and document what he was doing.
If you remember back to our first year with bees, we had three top bar hives heading into winter and two of them survived to spring. Despite losing what seemed like many, many bees to swarming (our fault) in the spring, the colonies rallied. We were able to divide them and even harvest some honey. We headed into this past fall with five colonies. Three in top bar hives, one in a homemade Langstroth and one in a nuc (mini-hive). We fed them some sugar syrup, tied down the roofs to keep them from blowing off and provided a wind barrier. We felt like we were much more hands off this year as compared to our first year- partly out of necessity and partly because the bees know better then we do in regards to what needs to be done.
I hope that this spring I'll be able to join Jamey in the bee yard more often. I miss the smell and the awe-inspiring creation of these little creatures and their homes. I'm also thrilled to be teaching a Honey Bee class to our older homeschool co-op class starting this week. I hope to post about how it goes and the resources I've found to use once I try them out.
In the meantime, if you're considering beekeeping, now's the time to read, read, read and research, research, research. A couple of our favorite books are... Top-Bar Beekeeping by Les Crowder (he even answers my emails when I have questions), Beekeeping for Dummies and Beekeeper's Handbook. It may be too late in some areas, but you should also place orders for colonies- checking local resources first because local colonies have a better chance of doing well where you live. Makes sense, right?
And if you're not ready to jump on the beekeeping wagon (a precarious thought) you can just follow along here with us:-).