Bees, the Bee Yard, and my Little RefugeJuly 16, 2011
As I write this in one window I have the Mother Earth News Bee-a-thon 2011 on in another window. Its an informational 12-hour program on all sorts of bees, not just honey bees.
Much of the focus is on encouraging participation in Your Garden Show and their Citizen Science program The Great Sunflower Project during which participants count bees as they (the bees, not the participants) visit specific flowers. They even have a bee-o-meter that shows where bees (all types, honey, green, bumble, and unknown) have been seen. I have a bee-o-meter widget here on the blog. I’ve also registered and plan to record bees who visit several bee balm plants we have in our garden (there is a choice of several bee-attractive plants to choose from).
My own bees are doing just fine. The swarm I caught last year was lagging behind the hive I won last year, but a week or so ago it took off. I don’t mean it flew away, I mean it made lots and lots of bees. I even put another box on top so they’ll have plenty of room to expand.
I am hoping to harvest some frames of honey soon. But first I need to make a bee escape. It’s a board with a hole in it that you put below the box of frames you want to take off (this box should be on the top of the pile). On the bottom of the board is a triangle of thin (1/2” x 3/4” or so) pieces of wood with openings at each corner and covered with hardware cloth. The bees go out of the box through the hole and out the corners, but they generally can’t figure out how to go back in through the corners. I borrowed an escape board last year and it worked great. Time to make my own. Fingers crossed they’ll work and the bees have made enough honey that I can take some without feeling guilty.
I’ve also made some changes to improve my beekeeping capabilities and make myself happier too. I found I’d stop by and make sure the bee hives were standing and bees were still flying in and out. They would be but I might want to open the hives to check something yet I wouldn’t have lugged the gear down to the bee yard, so I wouldn’t be able to open the hive. It’s not all that far, 500 yards or so, from the shed where I have my bee stuff to the bee yard, but it is long enough to often keep me from going back up, gathering what I need, and then going back down to the yard. So I bought a patio storage chest to hold my stuff and put it down in the bee yard. Among the “stuff” I put in the box is a chair. Watch this little video (2.5 minutes) and you’ll see where the chair goes.