I’m on my third go-around of starting a package of bees and hoping that the resulting hive will survive the winter. Let me tell you, this year has been just another massive learning curve following a thoroughly different and unexpected trajectory.
This is my third year installing a new package of bees. I have hopes that I’ve sufficiently learned from the failures of the first and second year to be able to quip that the third time is indeed the charm. We’ve moved the location of the hive to a sunnier spot (although a truly sunny location is absent in our backyard). Conveniently, that sunny location is near a window in the house… which means that our foster kiddos got to see something few people really get to see in person: beekeepers in action.
After years of scheduling conflicts with the NEKBA beekeeping class, we finally were able to take their beginning beekeeping course this year. We attended our first of two classes yesterday. In many ways, the first half of the class was review for us. We knew much of the information that was presented in the various sessions, and my husband did find one of the presenters a little snooze worthy. I gently reminded him that we all aren’t as engaging and talented teachers as he is. Even though the first class focused on basics we mostly already knew, I think the class is going to be worth it on the whole.
We did so many things better with the hive this year. I genuinely had hoped that next year we would be able to harvest our own honey from a strong colony that had weathered the ups and downs of the difficult first year in getting established.
No such luck.
I felt so much better about this hive’s chances for success than last year’s. The bees did not have to draw out so much foundation, nearly every frame had already been drawn out. The weather seemed more conducive to bee foraging. The bees seemed happy and healthy whenever we checked on them. I felt as if I had learned so much from my first beehive that my second was sure to be more fortuitous.
I have wanted to grow my own popcorn since learning that popcorn is a special variety of corn. I’d always assumed that popcorn and corn were essentially indistinguishable, but not all corn can be popped. I believed that one kernel was just a drier and harder version of the other. Then my world popped like a hot kernel of corn in oil, and I wanted to grow my own popcorn. What else are gardens for except growing your own favorite foods?
We checked on the beehive yesterday and added the second brood box. Although we didn’t see the queen, we definitely saw evidence of her. The little white larvae were in their cells, and plenty of brood cells were capped. I saw no evidence of small hive beetles (woo!), and the hive generally looked pretty good. The worker bees were more than a little perturbed to have their hive dismantled for inspection and buzzed angrily around us.