“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others”
~Saint John Chrysostom
In case you are stumped, an apiary is simply where you keep your bee colonies. Also called a bee yard, it can contain one hive like mine or many hives. So my apiary is in my side yard, between my house and garden. I’m small potatoes compared to most, at this time it’s a manageable size for me.
I’m happy to report that my bees have survived the winter admirably and are a VERY strong colony (meaning there are LOTS of them). In March, I opened up the hive for the first time this year, reversed the boxes, replaced several old frames of wax with new foundation, treated organically for mites, checked honey stores and looked for the queen or evidence of a laying queen. All checked out fine to my eye, so I closed it up again and left them alone for another month.
I opened the hive again yesterday and found that they are almost finished drawing out the new wax foundation that comprised the uppermost box (box #4, I use all western size), are storing new nectar in it and that the queen is laying there too. I didn’t see the queen but there were many eggs, properly laid in the bottom of cells and many, still standing indicating that they are only one or two days old. So over the 4 boxes containing brood (larvae/pupae), honey and pollen I added a queen excluder and added a honey super with new foundation since the top box was mostly drawn out and filling up with nectar. It seems early to do this to me, but as I said they are strong, and I don’t want to risk a swarm. They are working fast even though this has not been a stellar spring.
All evidence points to a busy, thriving colony and maybe, just maybe they’ll make enough honey for us too this year. This is their third year, each stronger than the last, but I haven’t taken any honey off as of yet as I never thought they had made enough for us and themselves. Honey bees store pollen and honey for their survival (protein and carbohydrates respectively) and if a beekeeper takes all or too much of the honey for him/herself, the bees will starve or the beekeeper will have to feed them (sugar/water syrup) for their survival till the weather warms and plants and flowers begin to bloom after winter again. Their natural honey is always the best dietary choice for them, and feeding them means more work for me so, I have left the honey. So far it has paid off…I didn’t have to feed them at all this year, which is a win-win situation for us all.
I realize I’ve used a lot of unexplained beekeeper jargon in this post. I apologize for not breaking it down more by way of explanation, it would probably be too lengthy. I know it can be confusing for those not familiar with bees, but hopefully you now have some insight into the life of bees and their keepers. In a nutshell…all in all, life is good in the apiary today!
Got a question? Click on comments!
If you want to explore the world of beekeeping more fully, I recommend perusing your local library’s shelves. Two excellent books on the subject are Beekeeping for Dummies by Howland Blackiston and Natural Beekeeping by Ross Conrad.
In bloom in my garden today: Syringa ‘Adelaide Dunbar’, Iris, Huckleberry, Geum ‘Lady Stratheden’, Viburnum davidii, Saxifrage, Bergenia ‘Winter Glow’, old fashioned Coral Bells (Heuchera), Tellima (Fringe Cups), Ajuga (Bugleweed), Solomon’s Seal, Wisteria, creeping phlox, Oxalis oregana ‘Wintergreen’, Dodecatheon (Shooting Star), Alpine strawberry, Heather, Daphne caucasica ‘Eternal Fragrance’ and ‘Summer Ice’, Wood Hyacinth (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
Bee on Huckleberry top photo courtesy of Pat Chissus