Archive for December, 2009

My first Year Keeping Bees

December 16th, 2009

Traditional clay covered straw skep hives in the Basque region

Those cone shaped bee hives are called skeps, and I’m pretty sure that the two simple wooden boxes are bee hives too. In most (if not all) of the United States the law requires that bees be kept in “modern” hives which can be opened and inspected. This marvelous picture is one of many extraordinary images that you can see at The Bee Photographer – www.thehoneygatherers.com.  BTW – that is not me in the picture.

I’ve really enjoyed my first summer keeping bees – Working with, observing, and learning about the bees has been very interesting and enjoyable.  Before I started I read a lot about the subject, but inevitably experience teaches things that I didn’t pick up on during months of study.

You have to feed bees –  And it is more expensive than you would think – ideally bees feed their selves, but if you are trying to increase the population of your apiary you will probably have to feed sometimes – BTW most hobby bee keepers feed their bees syrup made out of plain old granulated sugar.  I haven’t kept up with it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve bought $50 (or more) worth of sugar to feed my 1 1/2 hives of bees this year.

When I feed my bees syrup I use a quart jar with a few small holes in the lid.

When I feed my bees syrup I use a quart jar with a few small holes in the lid.

Bees make honey of course, but they also eat honey. So if you harvest too much, or if it just isn’t a good year for honey production you might have to feed your bees – even after they are well established.  But when you are first starting out and concentrating on growing more bees rather than producing honey it’s almost a sure thing that you will have to feed.  Bee keepers have a saying – You can grow bees or you can grow honey, but not both.  Don’t plan on producing a lot of honey for a year or two. » Read more: My first Year Keeping Bees