I’m becoming a beekeeper!
I’m a lot closer than I used to be, anyway. The community garden I belong to keeps its own bee colony, and I’m apprenticing Kimberly, the garden member who actually knows what she’s doing. I’m the faceless one on the right. I promise it’s me.
The New England winter this year was famously awful. You may have heard about it. Or experienced it. A huge number of bee colonies died, and ours was one of them. So we ordered a new starter colony. Out of a little mesh crate about the size of an actual bread box, we released a few thousand bees into our hive. They’ve had a little over a month to get settled, and they’re doing great.
They’ve been filling up their first box nicely, so recently we put a second box, the blue one, on top. Yesterday we went in for the first time since then to see if the queen had moved up to the second box to continue laying. Kimberly prised the frames out one at a time and I noted our findings on my little clipboard.
The bees are loving it in the second box. They’re active in at least half the frames, collecting nectar and storing honey. And the queen, most importantly, is out and about and laying eggs. Queens are pretty easily distinguishable from the rest of the colony, mainly because they’re so much bigger. You can pay a little extra, though, to get your queen shipped with a splotch of blue paint on her back. It’s easier for us, and it’s easier for blogging. There she is, right in the top middle.
We took a peek into the bottom box, but didn’t open it all up because we’d already been messing with the bees for a while and didn’t want to keep disturbing them. There’s still a whole lot of activity down there, so next time we’ll go in and see what those guys are up to. Once most of the frames have been filled up, we’ll add a third box on top, as well as a queen excluder, which is a fine grating the worker bees can fit through but the queen can’t. That means the third box can be devoted to honey, without a bunch of eggs getting in the way. But that’ll be later in the summer. For now we’re just observing, and I’m taking notes on my clipboard.
And expressing myself artistically.