Sunday, May 23, 2010

Captured Swarm

Last week I was walking my dogs with my wife and kids and noticed something hanging from the honeysuckle vines on my neighbor Mike's fence. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on my and that my newfound love of honeybees was causing me to hallucinate. But as I drew closer, I realized that my eyes were not kidding me and that there was a huge cluster of bees. One of Mike's hives must have swarmed. I quickly ran to Mike's house and told him what I spotted. The two of us proceeded to capture the swarm in an extra medium super of his. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I decided to help without any of my gear. I understood, academically speaking, that I should be safe, but to have thousands of bees in my hands and flying around me sure put my faith in such knowledge to the test. As it turns out, I was completely safe and though the bees buzzed with excitement at times, I did not get stung once. So, Mike is now ecstatic. As the saying goes, "A swarm in May is worth a bundle of hay." His captured swarm is probably at greater strength than either of the hives I began in April.

Monday, May 17, 2010

First Year With Bees

I bought 2 3lb. "bags" of bees on April 10. So far, the hives are doing fabulously. I've been reading tons on the subject and finding lots of great resources online. I've also joined the Wake County Beekeepers Association and taken a class that led to my certification as a beekeeper. I've done some experimenting already with various feeders and some frames without foundation. I've basically filled to deeps and am on my way filling two more. Once I have those filled, I will consider anything beyond that "supers" and therefore harvestable. This is my first entry. I hope to take photos and track my progress as a beekeeper this season and future ones.

My reasons for taking on this adventure are numerous, but the most important are environmental. The more I read about the collapse of honeybees, the more terrified I get. And unlike so many other problems in the world, this is one I feel like I can do a little bit to help fight. I also find these other aspects appealing: extra pollination in our garden, honey, wax, and the educational opportunities for my children and the students I teach.