Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Surprise Guests

This summer, my brother gave me some of his old bee boxes and books on beekeeping. I gladly hauled the boxes home from Oregon and was excited to do bee research over the fall and winter, then buy bees in the spring for pollinating my berry plants, vegetable plants and fruit trees.  Of course the bonus of sweet golden honey to harvest later in the summer would be a welcome addition to our kitchen.

bee boxes 

One of the boxes had frames loaded with about 60 pounds of honey which I thought I would replace with new frames in the spring.

Last week while I was at work, my husband called and said one group of bee boxes was covered with bees and they were moving in!

The new tenants

Now I'm on a crash course trying to keep my new hive of bees alive through the winter and have gone from this....

to this.....

I'm feeling excited and a little nervous about my new tenants. If anyone has suggestions on winter beekeeping, please leave a comment.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursdays.


  1. What a neat surprise! Good luck on your bees!
    Not sure if you follow Curbstone Valley Farm blog, but she's got lots of interesting info on beekeeping.

  2. What a blessing! Relax. The bees know what they are doing!

  3. Kathy, how exciting, and that beekeeping for dummies book actually isn't bad! I will warn you up front that late swarms are a challenge, and will require some work from you. Spring swarms have the advantage of improving weather, and ample nectar and pollen producing plants. It's somewhat the opposite right now. I did post a response to your comment on my blog yesterday, and the most important thing is to feed as much as they'll take right now, as they have absolutely no stores. If you don't have a top feeder for your hive, you can improvise with a baggie feeder. Mix up some 2:1 sugar:water, and HALF fill a gallon zip-top bag (if you over-fill it tends to leak). Close the bag tightly, and lay the bag on the top bars, and with a sharp utility knife, slice three or four 2 inch gashes in the top layer. The bees will find it.

    I have a post drafted for next week on late-season feeding, including a recipe for bee fondant which you can keep in the hive through winter. It lasts longer, so means if you get extended bad weather, they won't run out of food so fast.

    Also, if you have anywhere near you that sells beekeeping supplies, offering pre-mixed pollen patties as a protein source will also help. Even if there is still nectar and pollen in your area, any bad weather will preclude the bees from flying and foraging, so anything you can do to support them nutritionally now, the better. Congrats on your first swarm by the way, and there really is no better way to attract bees, than with a used hive! If you have any questions, feel free to email me. The contact form on our site goes straight to the farm email. I'm more than happy to help, I'd love to see these girls make it!