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Bees {an update}

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We lost one hive over the winter to carpenter ants and we made plans this spring to order packaged bees to replace it and replace a hive that is more aggressive than our other ones.
We waited and waited for the bees and a few days before we were expecting them, Gabriel got a call saying that the bees weren’t coming. The apiary had some issues with bees dying en route and they would not be able to fill our order. At that point, it was too late to get bees anywhere else – we tried. So we just did what we do best, use what we have.
We’ve had quite a bit of a drought this summer and we’ve had to actually feed the bees some. We’re only in our second year of beekeeping so we’re trying different things to figure out what works best for our bees. One hive has eaten all of the honey in a super that we thought we’d get to harvest.
At some point this summer, Gabriel lost the hive that was living in the top bar hive. We’re not sure what happened but believe it was the carpenter ants.
It’s hard to express the emotions that go along with all this. After all, they’re just bees. But there’s so much time and effort (and money) that goes into this part of our homestead by Gabriel. And, of course, we feel a deep sense of responsibility to care for any animal we bring on our property – including the bees.
Gabriel and Carl have gotten into the bee removal business and have had quite the experiences. It’s been really fun. Sometimes the bees are too aggressive and need to be destroyed. But sometimes, they aren’t and a couple have been relocated to our yard.

This is what happens after a bee removal. Gabriel and Carl get busy processing the honey and wax. They double check the comb and make sure there’s no brood in the cells.

They’ve been using a tortilla press to press out the honey. We’re exploring other ideas as we’ve already broken one tortilla press.

While I love the few days after a removal, having all my colanders, most of my large bowls, along with my large spoons and spatulas being used makes cooking a bit of a challenge.

When it’s all said and done, the brood comb will go out near the bee yard for the bees to clean. After they’ve had whatever they want we dump the old brood out for the chickens. Then Gabriel melts the wax down and cleans it. He also sells the honey to friends locally.

Beekeeping is definitely a learning experience and even though we’ve had some heartache, we’ve learned so much. And we get really great honey.

How are the bees doing in your area?

This post is shared at Barn Hop, Mostly Homemade Monday, Natural Living Monday, Monday Menagerie, Backyard Farming Connections, Home and Garden Thursday, Self Sufficient HomeAcre, Small Footprint Friday, Farm Girl Friday, Little House in the Suburbs, From the Farm, Mountain Woman Rendezvous, Tuesday Garden Party

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