Thursday, March 1, 2012

bees are the new chickens

I have ordered the bees.  I pick them up in June from John Solomonides of www.nhhoneybee.com.  A nice local group who run a lot of hives commercially and also build hives for sale.  All the lumber for his boxes is local and they are built by local veterans.  My garden and fruit trees will benefit from the bees' labors and the honey will be nice.  And candles? The neighbors will enjoy the honey as they do the eggs from my chickens. I will also work on my photography and try to show you around the place here.  The decision to start a blog and to get bees go together.  And since I am new to both endeavors, I hope that those just thinking of becoming a beekeeper will enjoy another beginner's perspective.  Also hoping that I can learn to craft a satisfying blog, for myself and you.  I'm sure you will see many changes and tweeks as I learn my way.  Many people seem to think that I am a lot like Martha (admittedly my biggest influence) but this blog should dispel all those rumors and you can have a good laugh along with me as I go public.

My knowledge of bees so far comes from some reading and a two hour seminar with the Solomonides. I decided to buy bees from his farm because they are local, which to me sounds like they will winter over better here in New England than if I had ordered bees to be brought from the big suppliers in Florida.  There are different, do we call them breeds? of bees.  Italian, Carniolan, Russian.  Mine will be a mix of Carniolan, Italian, and Minnesota hygenics.  Hmmm.  Where is Carniola? Will they have some kind of Italian dialect or more of a Minnesota one, like my friend Linda, then, ya know?  Now at this point if you are alarmed at my lack of knowledge, you might need to find a different blog.  I know what I don't know.  And I do have until June to work out some of the bugs. haha.

A NUC of bees for $135.  Housing to come, probably about $300 more for all that.  Not a cheap hobby to begin.  A NUC is a Nucleus--a small colony of bees.   They will come in one box that has 3 frames of brood to hatch and two more frames of honey. 5 frames of something, anyways.  A frame is a flat board that the bees live on inside the hive.  A real hive has 8 or 10 frames per box. They are made of plastic or real honeycomb.  But in either case, the bees build them out with wax to house the brood, and to store honey.  I will have to shake them all out into my hive.  The queen will be in a separate box, I think.  But I know she will have a dot on her so that I can find her easily.  She is quite a bit bigger than the workers.  This seems to be the most daunting part of beginning-handling all the bees the first moment you get them.   After that, it is a lot of leaving them to do their thing.  There will be some early feeding to do to get them started, but since it will be June, there will be plenty of natural food.  Sugar water placed on top of their hive in special feeders is the normal way of augmenting their food supply.  It is also a way to give them any medications they may need.   I do not yet know if I am aiming for some kind of organic keeping.  Minimal chemicals is always my mantra.  That is why my chickens take care of all the bugs in the lawn.  No chemicals.  We slope back into some lovely wetlands with a very active pond, frogs and birds and beavers, and I don't want to let anything leach into their environment.
So. . .bees are the new chickens, I tell folks.  Chickens are everywhere now.  Bees are edgier, cooler.  NYC has one of the biggest beekeeping associations around.  Look up when you are in town.  They live on the tops of the buildings.  There is much to learn.  No turning back now.  I'm off the end of the dock headed toward that cold splash. . . CANNONBALL!!!!
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