I got interested in keeping bees a while ago. For a long time I did not get to it to start keeping bees myself. A Christmas present from my sister last year was for a couple of beekeeping courses organized by the local beekeeping association. So I did indeed have some incentive to finally get started with it. I took part in these weekend courses which explained the details about beekeeping. They do not take so much time but the courses themselves are spread over about a year so that they follow the development of a typical beehive and explain what you as a beekeeper have to do.
If you are stumbling on this blog entry by accident I can recommend having a look at beekeeping as a hobby full heartedly.
The Bees are there
Now the time has finally come that my bees have arrived. The instructor of the course brought them and also explained a few more things. I was prepared with a Zander movable frame hive. Inside it I had 10 frames prepared with comb honey foundation. The arrival of the bees was quite an event. About 2 kg of bees, that's about 20000 bees, were basically poured on a sheet of wood in front of the entrance. By instinct they will after a while go inside. Obviously at this point the air was also full of bees. But we were just standing there without any protective clothing. The race "Apis mellifera carnica" and the specific breed my tutor provided are very peaceable so that was no problem at all. When the bees were on their way inside the hive a new queen was released from its cage right next to the entrance of the hive. The bees already knew this queen because they were trapped with it for about 2 days in the transport box, so the swarm got to know its new queen. Once the queen was inside the critical part was over and the remaining bees outside were sure to follow the queen inside.
The hive itself looks like this.
It is located right behind our house. We live at the outskirts of a smallish city so beekeeping is no problem there. It is generally also possible to do it on a balcony to some degree if you live directly in the city which I find quite remarkable.
Because the bees were moved to an empty hive they needed a little support so that this new swarm grows strong enough to survive the coming winter. I fed them with sugared water (10kg on 6,6l) which they consumed or moved to the cells within about 14 days.
The bees are of course quite busy all the time. I can easily watch them from our kitchen window. It is really a nice to start the day by having a quick look at the bees and which kind of pollen they are carrying.
Taking a Look
The bees should be disturbed as little as possible after they moved in. I just fed them and then left them alone. But now more than 21 days have passed and it is time to have a look. At this point I should see all stages of brood. I used the smoker to calm the bees down or more precisely once again make pretend there is a huge fire and they need to pack their bags.
And now there we have it. A good look at a populated mixed frame.
The sealed white area at the outside is the sugared water. The open cells have various degrees of nectar, pollen and different stages of open brood. In the middle we have sealed brood and some cells which are empty. So a few bees have already hatched out. Everything seems to be in good order.
Also note the reddish color of some of the cells. This is a brand new honeycomb so it should be clear yellowish. But my bees brought a lot of bright red pollen a while ago. It first confused the hell out of me. But after a while I found out what it was. Asparagus pollen. Who would have thought that that is so freaking red.
You might have noticed that all of this happened over a longer period of time. To be quite frank about it, I just got around to writing it all down today. There sure is more to tell and explain but well I didn't want to start the beekeeping section of my blog with 10 pages :).
In fact so much time has passed that the second bee hive is also there now. I placed it next to the other hive. Pictures will surely follow in the upcoming blog posts. One other note for beekeeping sceptics. There is a small path next to the hives which we use at least a few times a week. You can walk there without any problem. The bees keep to themselves and do their thing.
Future, Big Brother?
To conclude. Some of you observant readers may have wondered about the relation between the domain name hivestream.de and my beekeeping adventures. The other sections of my blog are a lot more technical. So does it make sense? Sure it does. I thought about the domain name a long time ago already having the bees in mind. I have a couple of ideas to combine my tech hobbies and beekeeping.
- live video streaming the in and outside of the hive
- tracking and counting entering and leaving bees
- measuring and logging the weight gain of the whole hive
- monitoring the filling status of the honeycombs inside
- logging environment conditions like temperature, humidity and so forth
- monitoring the temperature distribution inside the hive
I think these could be very interesting tech projects to design and build and also give a lot of insight into the development of the hive. Of course I plan to do these things as unintrusive as possible.
Let's see what becomes of these ideas. Stay tuned for more!