beginner beekeeper

Nuc pick up!

WE’RE OFFICIALLY BEEKEEPERS!   I’ve been dying to pick up our nucs so that I could officially say this.  We’ve got our ladies safely at home and in their new hives.  (I have more photos of the pick up and install on my big kid camera, so here’s a quick iPhone dump.)

After dealing with some really crappy weather, we got the go ahead from Jerry from Rock Hill Honey Bee Farms to come and pick up our nucs Sunday evening.  My dad and brother were brave enough to come with us (though I don’t think that my brother really thought through the fact that there would be bees with him in the car. )

All the nuc’s at Jerry’s farm were buzzing and growing and beautiful!  We went through a few so we could pick out our favorites, mark the queen (our preference), and strap them closed for transfer.  He also stapled mesh over the openings before helping us load them into our car.  I ended up with the nuc we checked out during our class in April which I took to be a good omen.

We had an uneventful ride home.  Thankfully.  I’m sure there are horror stories about improperly secured nucs creating chaos in the car.  We left our suits and veils on, just in case.  The boys had to risk it 😉

We got the ladies into the backyard, got the smoker up and running, and moved the fresh frames into their new homes!

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The front hive is my mom’s “Connecticut” and her queen is Wethersfield.  Mine is in the back of the photo above, called “Florida” with a “Gainesville” queen.  We’ve been pretty transient my whole life so this is a fun way to pay homage to our favorite homes!

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Clearly we were REALLY excited.  I don’t think either of us stopped beaming the entire time.  It was such a proud moment and so cool to share it with my mom.  This has been a goal of ours for a long time – surprising totally unrelated and independently established.

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The scariest part was when we realized the my bees had built a pretty good chunk of wonky comb in a the small extra space in their nuc box.  I just cut it out and rubber banded it into a frame without foundation.  It didn’t stay nice and pretty, but I trust my girls to clean it up and get it up and running again.  It was FULL of honey already!

We put 1:1 sugar water in the top supers using the plastic bag method – just a little slit in the bags to give the bees easy access without drowning.  They’ve been eating it up, but we’ve also seen so many bees come and go with full pollen packets that we’re not too worried about it at this point.

Once I download photos from my camera, I’ll be sure to get them up here right away with an update after we check the hive this weekend, hopefully with some great close ups of our girls.



Mommy & Me Beekeeping Class

Yesterday we took a full day beekeeping course!  It was amazingly informative – not as textbook/formal as my last class (but that was SIX WEEKS LONG) – more in terms of great anecdotes and very area specific (NoVa) information.


Here are a few basics:

Honeybees are either female (queen or worker) or male (drone.)  They all have extremely specific functions and look totally different.  As you can see below honeybees are NOT bumblebees.  (They are also not wasps, hornets, carpenter bees, etc.)

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Honeybees need attention.  Some beekeepers choose not to feed their hives.  We will.  Because we don’t want to risk them dying.  They need to be medicated for the plethora of diseases they can get.  Some can be fixed or treated (small hive beetles, nosema) other mean certain death (American foulbrood – you have to burn the entire hive.)\

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In a few weeks my mom and I will pick up our nucs at the same location (also called a nucleus) which will be just like mini hives.  Instead on 10 frames per super (the boxes) there will only be five.  A nuc has a laying queen, tons of workers, drones, and eggs (called brood.)  Basically it’s like a really awesome starter kit.  We will transfer them into the new hives boxes we purchased from Mann Lake.


Anyways, the best part of the class was getting to play with the bees!  Identifying queens (big butted fatties), checking for eggs, praying you don’t get stung.  Here’s some photos!



Note my lack of bee suit. Oops! No stings though!

four frames of a nuc – these will be used for queen rearing


Queen hunting

Look at them building out the comb!

Mommy and Me!