Our First Check on the Bees

It's been just over two weeks since we brought our bees home, and over the course of that time have really enjoyed watching them work from our advantage point outside of the hive. 

Today, we're ready to take the next step. Homesteading is a constant adventure, isn't it?

Wendie and I waited until the girls were home so they could join us, and the preparations began. For us, it's not all about the honey, but rather supporting an integral part of our ecosystem. 

These bees are critical to the success of our homestead, from not only a honey perspective, but from the benefits they bring to our gardens.

Our First Check on the Bees

first check on bees
As you know from our previous posts on the bees, we've worked our bee yard so far without the use of a bee suit and smoker. The idea is to get comfortable reading the bees behaviors and knowing when to, and when not to, do certain things.

Installing them was fine as the hive had nothing to protect, but yesterday we wanted to mark our first two weeks by doing a hive wellness check. Smart bee keeping was in order.

We were feeding them syrup to help with the comb build (their own homesteading boost), but that ended yesterday as the nectar is available now in our neck of the woods. We don't want lazy bees, after all. After removing the feeding jar, we all donned our hoods and the smoker was lit. Though we had pellets, we didn't have a butane torch, so a tight pack of pine needles provided cool smoke just the same. Talk about a budget saver!

first check on beesThere was a little comb to be cleaned up, but for the most part the innards of the hive are coming together nicely. We found Queen Jade (yes, we named her Jade), and carefully inspected the hive around her.

Pollen is being packed, there were some syrup reserves put aside, and some capped cells. The presumption is that they are capped brood, but we'll have to wait to see to learn more about that next time we open up.

With everything in order, the hive was closed, the bees wax placed in a sealed mason jar, and the remaining syrup jars moved to the second hive where our carniolans will use when they arrive on May 31st.

Building a Brood Box

first check on bees
While waiting for the kids to come home, I opened up the wood shop and got to work. The first order of business was to learn how to build a brood box. If I get motivated, I'll do a follow up post with the details.

We'll be using these for our hives, of course, but also as swarm traps so we can reduce our expenditures with the bee yard. I started with cedar, but know that clean pine works just as well with some weather-protection added in.

The sizes of a langstroth hive are universal, so after making my cuts and cutting in the rabbets, it was only a matter of squaring things up and fastening them together with wood glue and brass decking screws. A little pyrography and the job was complete.
first check on bees

I still need to learn to build the rest of a hive assembly from the stand, entrance, reducer and lids, but this start already saves us about half the cost of buying a hive outright. 

At roughly $130 for a pre-built box, we're looking at some serious savings. Especially when you look at the other components' costs.

Ideally, we will have four to five hives in the bee yard and postage stamp orchard. We are deep out in the woods, so pesticides aren't a concern, and there is plenty of forage for our healthy and conscientious addition to our livestock. Our late spring garden is loving them.

Late Spring Garden: Our Homesteading Anchor

Any day now we expect our order of fruiting trees and plants to arrive, and we are ready to dive in. We're looking at the end of the lettuces before the heat of June arrives, and that means planting our peppers, tomatoes and squashes.

The lack of sun this season has been a little disappointing for yields, but the way we look at it, we love getting what we can. Maybe our late spring garden isn't running amok, but it does allow us to keep it maintained a little easier.

We're still looking to do some landscaping on the lakeside, and a serious purge of the garage to our fruit truck storage box on the back side of the property is in order. Whew! We're thinking it might be time to pack up the RV and head off for an overnight camping trip just to wind down!

We love sharing our off-the-grid homesteading life with you all, and truly enjoy it when you add to the conversation. Have you done a first check on your new package bees yet? Don't forget to subscribe for more homesteading goodness!


Unknown said…
I would love to have bees on our homestead but I don't do well with any type of sting. Not like I have to carry an Pen but still not good. Have you looked at using horizontal hives?
Juliasdailytips said…
Nice very good post. Am skeptical about bees
Sounds like you are well on your way to a successful bee colony! I want to start with bees this year but with so many changes around here I am afraid we will not have the time. Maybe next summer.
WT Abernathy said…
We are loving these bees- and it's not really about the honey. We are already seeing the difference in our gardens and flowers- the pollination is intense! Our second package of bees, carniolans, arrive on May 31st, so we'll be able to see how they behave and work differently.
Dawn said…
I would love to have bees but haven't been able to convince the rather skeptical hubby yet that it's a good idea. I have no fear of them but I think, although he won't quite admit it, that he's a bit afraid. I did have a very nasty reaction to a sting last summer, but I believe that was a white-faced hornet, a much different critter than a honeybee, so don't see any problem with getting bees (except the hubby, LOL!) For now, I'll have to live vicariously through you.
WT Abernathy said…
Hi Dawn:) We have Italians and soon to have Carniolans- both very docile unless you really do something to agitate them. If you want to watch someone work them and document their journey from beginner to darn near expert, check out Vino Farms on YouTube. Wendie and I watch it together, and it really opens up the world of bee keeping for anyone:)
Cheers, and best of luck!
Dawn said…
Thanks. I'll definitely check out that YouTube channel. Maybe I'll make hubby watch it too, LOL!