Today was sort of bee day. It was cold and snowy so I nixed the idea of going into the yard and clearing a space for the bee hive. We did take the time to run out and buy our hive components though. We bought a starter kit at Queen Right Colonies, Ltd. in Spencer, Ohio. The kit included:
“(1) 9 5/8 dove tailed box, Telescoping cover, Inner Cover, Screen bottom board, (10) 9 1/8 frames, (10) sheets of waxed Rite Cell foundation. Helmet and veil, hive tool, feeder, hobbyist smoker, gloves.”
We got one extra 9 5/8″ box to act as our upper, basically an area for bees to store honey. As the year progresses we will add a medium box or two as the colony makes more honey. This year we decided to go with just one hive. For everything our cost was about $200 so far.
As for bees I think we’ve got our order in for a “nuc” (presumably short for “nucleus” ). You can get bees three ways: 1) Swarm (“free”) – basically go out in the wild and lure an existing colony of bees back to your place. This sounds like a lot of work. 2) Package ($60-$80) – you can order a 3 lb. pack of bees, and settle them into their warm new little home, from there they will build their colony on the frames inside the big wooden boxes. And finally 3) Nuc ($85 – $100) – you order a colony of bees already living on several frames. Take a deep box, and drop in the pre-colonized frames into the box and drive home. We chose the nuc route because this will get us off to a quick and easy start. I’m sure any route will work just fine; probably just personal preference.
The bees will be ready some time in April or May, so I have some time to prep our hive area. I’ll wait ’til mother nature bestows some nice weather on us. I need to get out back and clear a circle of meadow….maybe level the ground and dig a few ditches to route water around the area. I’ll drop some gravel down and stack simple cinder blocks up to create a stand. Getting the bee hive up off the ground will assure that raccoons and skunks won’t bother our bees. Those inquisitive mammals don’t like to reach up and expose their stomachs because then the bees would sting them. Having the hive higher up will make it easier to access the frames inside too.
In the spring we’ll spread wildflower seeds and plant lavender around the hive area and other areas on the property so our bees will be happy and have plenty of places to get nectar.
That’s about it for bee day today. Keep checking back to follow along with our bee keeping adventure. Also check the “Resources” page, I added a couple more links for house numbers and Queen Right bee keeping supply.