(This is part II of a series, see part I here)
Once you bring your bees home, make sure to set the hive in its permanent place. Bee’s get confused if they fly off for the flower garden and come back to find their home moved! We placed ours on cinder blocks, with an ever-so-slight downward angle to assist in an drainage that might be needed. And for a time, that’s all you need to do! As spring moves forward and the foliage begins to bloom, those bees will be busy building their honey stores and laying brood.
Choosing the location for your hive is very important. You’ll want it in a place where the sun can warm it in the winter, but it won’t be too hot in the summer. A place away from the children was important to us, as well. I feared a rogue ball or flying catcher would smash into it! In the end, we tucked our hive just inside our woods. It’s right on the southern facing edge, shaded in the summer time, but exposed to the winter sunshine. It is easily accessible, but shielded from wild children!
About a month after we established our hive, we added another box of frames onto the hive. You can’t add all of the boxes at once, as bees prefer to work up instead of out and sometimes need a little coaxing to fill the frames on the outer part of the box.
Because I wasn’t sure how successful this little endeavor was going to be, I hesitated to dump a bunch of money into various pieces of equipment. Therefore, we’ve done the barebones version of beekeeping. I did purchase a veil and smoker locally, as they are pretty much necessities. I was able to make a rather crude second veil and then we wear jeans and heavy boots, long sleeved shirts and work gloves when we work with the bees. We also work quickly and perhaps squeal more than we should. I have been stung twice, but once was because I was sneaking around with my camera and was just wearing a dress.
As summer wears on, you can add a queen excluder and super to the top of your hive. The excluder keeps the queen from accessing the comb, so only honey will be filling these boxes. We did add a super last year, but since our hive was new and small, these combs were never filled. We weren’t able to collect any honey last season, but that was to be expected. I was able to snatch one tiny bit of comb and honey before closing the hive for winter, and it was amazing.
We were very hands-off last season, so this is pretty much all we did! I know some people are much more fussy with their hives, but we prefer to let nature do its own thing as much as possible. Next post, I’ll let you know what we did to help our hive make it through the cold winter.
A few useful tools: