Since I married a man with the last name of Beeco, it’s only logical that I would decide to become a beekeeper and call my endeavor Beeco Bee Co.
I’m starting out this spring with two Langstroth hives and loads of great support and encouragement from the local Coastal Empire Beekeepers Association (CEBA), plus books, groups on Facebook and YouTube videos.
I learn and unlearn something new about bees every day. They say for every beekeeper there is a different opinion, and that seems to be true! It makes sense because each bee yard is unique due to its location, amount of sunshine, weather, surrounding food, water access, queen temperament, how often the hive is disturbed … and the list goes on and on.
One thing seems to hold true – you can’t just get a hive and put a colony of bees into it and show up at the end of summer to take away gallons of honey. Just like pets, bees need oversight. They need access to clean water and food sources. You may need to feed them to help them prepare/get through the winter. The hive can get infested – varroa mites, small hive beetles, wax moths and American foul brood. Add to that the critters (like raccoons and skunks) that want to break into the hive to eat the bees or honey.
I’m sure this learning experience will have its ups and downs, but my world will be better by doing this. I’ll make a blog post for each month’s activities.
P.S. I visited a beekeeper and his bee yards in Iceland last summer. Will post a separate blog about that.
Beers for Bees: New trickle-down water wall for bee yard
Want to do your part to help the honey bees in the Savannah area? Come to Moon River Brewing, 21 W. Bay St., Savannah, Ga., on Wednesday, April 12, 6-9 p.m., and drink craft beer! Here’s the Facebook event invite so you can tell all your friends!
For every MRBC beer sold, MRBC will donate $1 to the Coastal Empire Beekeeping Association (CEBA). They will use these funds to build a trickle-down water wall inside the CEBA bee yard located at the Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah.
The trickle-down water wall will provide drinking water – free of chemicals, pesticides and other contaminates – for honey bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators throughout the year.
Water is as essential to our area’s honey bees as it is to your pets. They use it to cool their hive during the hot summer, and they mix it with pollen and nectar to produce the special food (bee bread) that is fed to thousands of baby bees (larva stage of development).
Our Savannah summers may require a single colony to consume up to a quart of water every day. The CEBA bee yard will be expanding from 4 to 12 colonies by May, so the bees may need three gallons of water per day!
February 2017 Beekeeping Diary
- Cut down a leaning tree that could fall on the hives, plus some scraggly branches that were blocking the sunlight on the hives.
- Half-buried a heavy duty black plastic water trough for a water garden. Will work on adding a trickle down feature.
- Added water hyacynths from in a local ditch to the water garden – will give bees a place to land when they want a drink.
- Repurposed our pile of discarded bricks into a walkway. Also put a stack of the Savannah Gray bricks inside the water garden so that they would leach minerals into the water.
- Relocated plants from around our yard to the bee yard – four banana plants, canna, thyme and flowering garlic. Will add more flowering plants in a couple weeks – lavender, mint, poppy and cilantro.
- Put stickers to the fronts of the two school bus yellow hives so bees could tell them apart and named the hives Candy Land and Happy Day.
- Spread mulch around the open areas.
- Discovered the itchy, nasty, ugly-looking, painful joys of poison [ivy, sumac or oak?] – the vines were tangled around the tree we took down, and I didn’t know it.
My friend Dawn and I put together two new medium supers and the 20 frames to go in them so I will be ready to expand my hives once the colonies get established and start growing.
Feb. 11: I volunteered to work in the CEBA bee yard at Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah. (This event happens ever second Saturday of each month.)
I swapped two new deep frames for used frames with comb with CEBA president Greg so I could put them in my new hives. This makes the new hive more attractive to bees.
I tried on a few bee veils. I think I will go with the fencing style because it seems to stay put better and offers a bigger range of sight. I don’t need a jacket or full beekeeping suit.
I learned first hand about bee temperament. The first hive we checked was very mellow about our intrusion. The second hive, however, rushed my hand when I moved my hand over the top of the inner cover.
That afternoon I put the used frames in my two hives and added some Swarm Commander, a scent way to lure a swarm of bees to the hive. Now we wait. On the bright side, we’ve been seeing a lot of honey bees on our blooming Meyer lemon and calamondin citrus trees.
No worries if I don’t lure a wild swarm. I have ordered a nuc of bees that will be ready for delivery sometime in April.
Feb. 16: No bees yet. Second application of Swarm Commander on hive. Started to throw away some of the water hyacynths because they had spread so fast in the water garden – wanted some sunlight to get to the bottom of the tub.
Feb. 17: Ordered Better Beetle Blasters to help reduce the number of small hive beetles that will be in the hive. These are little plastic troughs to be filled with vegetable oil and placed between two frames inside the hive.