Spring Waxing Awakening Moon
The bulk of the bee woodenware has come: frames for honey supers, honey supers, foundations for honey supers, a bee brush, a feeder for syrup and a bunch of pollen patties and goop to make my own if I need to do so. While this may seem like a lot of gear, and it is, by next year we should have four colonies with two producing a lot of honey and two ready to divide to create two more good honey producers and two more developing parent colonies that will provide the honey for the year after that.
This system can work with any number of colonies, but if focuses on producing two at a time and can reach a steady state at any multiple of two. In the first year (last year’s for me) the goal is to create a parent colony that can divide in mid-May. With the division there are now two colonies, one with an established queen, the parent colony, and the division, which initially has no queen. The parent colony produces a lot of honey while the division with a new queen builds itself up to three hive boxes and may produce some honey. Over the winter the parent colony bees die out–the usual life span of a queen is two years and worker bees somewhere between 30 and 90 days on average. The parent colonies hive boxes get cleaned out and accept the division from the new parent colony and so on. By adding a new package of bees this year in a new hive box in the orchard, I’m preparing a parent colony for division next year there.
After next year we will have four colonies, two producing a good bit of honey and two strengthening themselves toward division in the upcoming year. With careful attention to bee diseases, hygiene and good management this can self-perpetuate.
On April 24th or so I get my new 2 pound package of Minnesota Hygienic bees. They’ll go in the orchard with the fancy new copper hivery top. We’ll see these two hives out our kitchen window year in and year out so I wanted them to look good. Mid-may I divide the old colony and start stacking up honey supers. Then we should be off to the races.