Bee Diary March 26, 2011

Spring                                               Waning Bloodroot Moon

All three colonies are dead.  I rechecked them last weekend.  I have ordered three packages of bees, the larger 3 pounds boxes, that will arrive in early April, perhaps April 9th.  Hiving 500honey-extraction_0231the new packages takes place as soon as possible after I pick up the bees from Nature’s Nectary outside Stillwater.  They may wait a day, but not more.

I’m weighing whether to take the route of several beekeepers I know who buy new packages each season and harvest all the honey that’s made, rather than trying to overwinter the colonies.  If I do decide to go that route, we’ll have to sell the honey to recoup the costs, perhaps show a little profit.

There are arguments for and against this method.  Obviously it gives the bees only a season of a life, that’s a definite mark against it.  On the other hand, if colonies die anyhow, then there’s really no change except the certainty of their death.

This does allow harvesting the maximum from a colony’s first year, which would have added about 100 pounds of honey last year, or maybe 12 gallons to the five we collected.  On the other hand, it doesn’t allow for maximum production because an over-wintered colony produces more, since it already has its stores and will proceed to fill honey supers right away.

Another positive would be holding diseases down since they would have not have the overwintered, weakened condition that allows some diseases to take hold.

As I write this, I can see the argument for only one season of the bees.  Still not sure which say I’ll swing.

This will be the third season at Artemis Hives and I have a few new management ideas in addition to the one I’m considering above.  Instead  of a third hive box, I will use two honey supers instead.  This gives the same volume as a hive box, but in lighter by half units.  This will also make retrieving all the the honey easier if I decide to go with one season only for all 400_honey-extraction_0225the colonies.  I’m also going to check out better ways to have a bee proof environment in which to extract honey.  It was pretty bad last year.

In spite of the cold weather projected now through June according to Paul Douglas, we will hive the bees in early April and begin to plant cold weather crops as soon as the soil becomes friable.  Early April through early October is a major season here at Artemis Gardens and Hives.

At the end of it Kate and I will pack our bags and sail away to South America.  We’ll greet October 28th, 2011 somewhere in Ecuador.  That’s the time the world changes according to one understanding of the Mayan calendar.