Friday, March 11, 2016

Being a Good Steward: A Lesson from Beekeeping.

A honey bee with full pollen pockets and pollen on
the landing board.
I love beekeeping. We were out inspecting our hives from top to bottom today, our first major exam for the spring. Both hives have laying queens and as soon as the nectar flow begins are likely to take off. Neither is showing any signs of swarming. (No queen cells, no drones being raised, etc.) We rearranged the boxes to put the brood on the bottom and in the two boxes above we checker-boarded which means we alternated frames of honey/pollen with empty frames so the hive knows they have plenty of room to grow. We took off the mouse guard and changed the entrance reducer from the smallest opening to the middle one. We put syrup in yesterday so the girls are all set for now and we will leave them alone (except to see if they need more syrup) for a week or two before we visit again. Colonies need a little time to recover after an inspection. Later in the spring we will be checking for pests.

A beekeeper I met in Florida said he sings to his bees and I'm starting that tradition. Today they were as calm as could be even after we disturbed almost every frame in the hive. Before I put on my bee suit I went out and just watched them for awhile. They were bringing in lots of bright yellow and greyish pollen. I even saw one girl with her pockets filled with red pollen -- beautiful.

Some bees were "dancing"on the landing board wings aquiver. That's one way they share information with their sisters sending them off to the good sources of pollen and nectar (although there aren't many nectar sources out their yet).

We could learn a lot from honeybees. They are an incredibly cooperative insect. Everybody in the hive has a job and they all work together for the good of the colony. Would that our families were as diligent in that respect as the humble honey bees.

The next time you take a taste of honey think of the girls who brought it to you. A worker over her lifetime will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey after spending every nice day flying up to five miles from the hive to gather a little nectar. But she won't just make that honey; she will pollinate many crops that would be pretty sparse without her efforts. One crop, almonds, would probably disappear without the honey bee since they do almost 100% of the almond pollination.

Whenever I go out to the bee yard I thank God for honeybees and tell the girls I love them. I can imagine their humming song is their way of saying, "We love you too."

Want to know more about honeybees? Here are 10 Fascinating Facts.

1 comment:

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Note to self --

I checked the hives today (March 17) to see if the girls had enough syrup. The little hive had plenty. The big hive was out so I gave them about three quarts. There were about a dozen drowned bees in the last bag. I think I made the slit too large so I made this one smaller. We'll see how they do with that.

Both hives were bringing in lots of pollen, mostly yellow, a little orange.