Bees!

Our bees are arriving in April. Starved Rock Honey will be picking up two packages of Carniolan bees from Iowa. Each package weighs three pounds and includes 10,000 honey bees and one queen. Before the bees arrive, we will finish putting together and painting our hives. The bees will live in the orchard on the east (apple/pear) side. Since they don’t like paw paw trees, and we don’t want them too close to our beloved cedar and fire ring, that’s the best place for them.

The Permies offer great suggestions for what to plant near bees. White clover as a ground cover in the orchard should do the trick. One source suggests using a chicken waterer with gravel in the lip for watering bees. We’ll also need to think about shade for this year. Perhaps we should invest in an older tree to give them some dappled shade. Norway Nursery has lots of native bushes that might work.

Herbs for bees

Care and Feeding of New Bees

Randy Oliver, a research biologist, offers excellent suggestions for controlling pests in the hive, as well as maintaining general health. His website includes first-year tips, calendars, reading recommendations, and safe pesticides.

The Mid-Atlantic Apiculture and Research Consortium give tips on how to feed package bees. I will have a top-feeder for my standard hive (2 X 9″ hive bodies + [eventually] 3 Illinois supers) and use a jar for my Illinois supers (5 X Illinois supers) hive.

The Mann Lake representative recommends “pollen patties,” which are actually pollen substitute. UCDavis recommends soy-free and casein-free, meaning the more expensive pollen patty is the way to go. Starved Rock Honey says there will be enough natural pollen available when my bees arrive.

Bush Bees says pollen substitute isn’t necessary if real pollen is available.

Wikipedia gives a list of pollen-producing plants for zone 5, with information about when the plants bloom.

Extracting Honey

Extracting honey is reputed to be the toughest part of keeping bees. I’m researching ways to do so economically. One keeper suggests using the small extractor from HoneySpinner.com.

This keeper shows how to set up plastic buckets for straining.

More suggestions, including how to extract using a spatula and cookie sheet.

Here’s an ingenious homemade extractor that uses a hand drill for power.

Getting Ready for Winter

How much honey to leave in the winter–you’ve got to leave enough to feed the colony.

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