For some time now, we have been working on preparedness. As part of that preparedness, we have been trying to become more self-reliant and resilient. We grow fruits and vegetables. We have had our own chickens and plan to acquire more this summer.
Now, we are introducing something new to our farm - the honeybee. For the past couple of months, we have been caring for a split that we received. It is a very small and weak colony, without a queen, but they made their own queen from brood.
|Our first hive.|
|Putting sugar water in the hives.|
Since our colony is so small, we have been feeding them to help them. We place a super on the box and place sugar water in upside down containers.
|We don't recommend the containers with pop off lids.|
We learned a valuable lesson feeding in this manner. Don't use containers with pop off lids. The honeybees will seal the lids to the frames. If there is sugar water in the container when you lift it up to check it, it will come open and spill everywhere. Use only containers with screw on lids.
|The Bee Whisperer petting a swarm.|
My husband is very comfortable working with bees. He has memories of his grandfather working his hives. His grandfather didn't fear the bees. He would work without any protective gear. That isn't always the best idea, but I call my husband the bee whisperer because he can do the same. He has no fear.
Recently, we started helping capture swarms. The first time I saw this done, it was terrifying. Watching how the bees swarm violently around.
|Brother and hubby capturing a swarm in a tree.|
After helping a few times, we caught two ourselves and it wasn't bad. I actually enjoyed it. The first swarm we caught was very large. Since it was our first to capture alone, it was a learning experience. We tried knocking it off into a box. Then we cut the limb and placed it in the box. Much more successful at getting more honeybees.
|Placing the honeybee laden branch in the box.|
|This is a small portion of the colony on the limb.|
|Honeybees on the edge with their tails fanning out.|
When we placed the bees in the hive, they really were upset and buzzing around. They were not happy. So hubby stuffed the entrance with grass. Soon, bees began to gather on the side of the box and settle down. When hubby opened the lid, the bees began to crawl up the box and inside. Some of the bees stood on the side and fanned their tails. This meant that the queen had accepted the hive as their new home and they were letting all the bees know to come on in. So, hubby removed the grass and put the frames in.
|Home sweet home.|
|Spraying with vanilla water.|
The next day, we were called back to the same home. A small swarm was gathered in the same tree. We caught them and after determining they were the remnants of the colony we had captured the day before and had no queen, we sprayed them with vanilla water and introduced them into our weak hive.
The vanilla water seems to calm the bees and made them easier to catch, but it also helps introduce them into the hive. They all start licking the vanilla water off each other and by the time the cleaning is done, everyone smells the same.
|The bee whisperer removing the branch from the box of bees.|
The honeybees are an exciting addition to our Prepared Household. They low buzzing is a happy sound and while I realize there will be stings, I think it will be worth it.