Have you ever had an experience that was a little scary, exhilarating, and left you absolutely speechless?
At The Honey Cottage we are all about education; whether it is on honey or beekeeping we love talking about bees. On Monday we had a swarm call where the bees were living behind a wall with the goats. So Frank went and gathered up the bees and put them in a beehive away from the goats. With thousands of bees in one area it is sometimes hard to catch the queen bee. She is the most important to catch because she has the pheromones to tell the other bees to follow her. We weren’t sure if she was caught so we had to wait it out the last couple of days. Yesterday we got a phone call that there was a ball of bees were in the same location as Monday, which meant we had not caught the queen bee. We got lucky though; we had a second chance to get the queen! I absolutely LOVE bee-ing with the bees and capturing their life on camera. I am still learning a lot about the bees and how they work. I am a novice beekeeper at best. I broke two key rules that almost put me in harm’s way. Last year I did not were a bee suit due to pregnancy; so I focused all my attention on perfecting my photography skills. Now, I have been up close to the bees and the beehive without having problems. Yet, when you are moving the bees to a new location they are now in protection mode.
Rule number one you should allows where a bee suit on a swarm call. It is just for safety measures and protects you from the bee stings. Rule number two listen to the beekeeper, no matter if it means losing a good photographic moment. I broke both of these rules; we had my bee suit handmade and the hood is not connected to the suit yet and I got cocky and thought I was at a good enough distance to take shots. Frank had a box of bees that he was walking over to the hive and told me to get back. Now, you have to remember this was the second attempt to get the queen; so the bees were more agitated then on Monday. I thought I was far enough to where they would not be affected by my presence. NOPE! At least I remembered rules three and four; walk away when you get the warning signal and be calm no matter what. I have learned that when you are too close to a hive a guard bee will come and basically bump into you. This is a clear warning signal to walk away or you will be stung. If you are too close to the hive and get stung more bees will smell the pheromones and will follow suit to protect the hive. Once the bee did that I realized I really over stayed my welcome. This is where rule number four is so important; I started walking away and more bees were following me. Here is where my excitement and worry started to mix; I knew if I got stung by one it would cause the others to do the same. So I had to relax as much as I could and keep walking. The bees started walking on my face and my hands!! That is where the exhilaration came in because I always wondered what it felt like. It is really hard to stay focused on walking away when that happens. I did get far enough away to have them leave and I jumped back in the car after above five minutes. Sometimes bees will linger around, so jumping back in the car with them following was not an option. In short I learned several lessons and will start taking my own advice; LISTEN TO THE BEEKEEPER AND FOLLOW THE RULES!
At The Honey Cottage we are dedicated in educating and helping teach people about the importance of bees. Beekeeping should not be just about honey or money, but we are seeing a drastic increase in demand for raw honey. There are a lot of pressing issues that need to be looked at if we are going to save the bees. It takes EVERYONE. You don’t have to be a beekeeper to help either. We actually recommend against it; there is only so much forage per area. Too many beekeepers in one area is taxing on the ecosystem and is stressful for the native bees. Each hive needs approximately one and half acres of constantly blooming plants to be successful. There is a misconception that bees only need the flowers in spring and early summer. This is not true; bees need late summer plants and plants that bloom in fall to be successful during the winter. This is why we are making a BIG push for everyone to HELP beekeepers. PLANT more plants than ever and plant a variety of plants, don’t use pesticides, support your local beekeepers, support your local garden clubs and nursery’s, and set out water sources.
-The more plants we plant as a community means there are more food sources for bees and other pollinators. They also need a large variety of plants so that they have a varied diet and will be much healthier. Plus, flowers will bloom not just in the spring, but summer and fall! They need to eat all the time just like humans do! They need to be able to put enough honey away for the long winters.
– Please don’t use pesticides on the plants!!! Bees pollinate our flowers and our food. If the poison is on the plants it is also going to be in the plant and now will go you’re into your system. Bees also make honey from the nectar that is in the flower. If they are getting the poison in their diet, it is also going in YOUR system. Push for co-planting instead; like planting peppermint, this will deter bugs from eating the plants.
-If you have an interest in beekeeping; start by learning and supporting a local beekeeper and garden clubs. This will help them and you at the same time. Education’s the key; to be a good beekeeper you need to know the bees, the flowers, and the habit in your area.
– Store bought plants can have GMO pesticides and growth retardants on them when they arrive at the store. This is to keep the flowers looking nice by the time they make it to the store; however, the pesticides harm bees. Working with the local garden club can help the club and makes sure the plants are well taken care of and don’t have the pesticides on them. You also support the local economy by working with local beekeeper’s and garden clubs!
– Water sources are very important for bees! We recommend a water basin or bird bath with gravel or 1 inch river stones. The bees are terrible swimmers and the stones will give them plenty of places to land to take a drink of water.
We at The Honey Cottage are excited for spring. It’s coming; we have seen the signs and heard from our bee whisperer. The bees are in the peacock feed and enjoying the warmth after a cold winter. Just look at the photos and you will see.
First is what we call bottoms up!!
This is the time to give the girls a nutrient boost, POLLEN, to make sure they have all the energy they need to start the spring ritual, no sugar for my girls, no man made super food either. We prefer nature made super goodness for our girls. (POLLEN AND HONEY)
Of course the pollen needs to bee powered. We use a mortar and pestle and as you can see we get plenty of help!
Back at the hive; it’s party time and the girls love their pollen. Yes, we also give them honey when needed…ONLY honey!
These girls are from a hive that I saved from the eve of a home in the Springs last September and they are doing just fine and no sugar was used.
Yes spring is coming, the bees are buzzing, the sun is shining, my girls are growing, and my wife is glowing. Here’s to a sweet year!!
This month was super exciting; we got some amazing pictures of the hive, and our bee suits are almost complete. Lily has been bugging us for weeks asking where her bee suit is and when will she be able to look in the hive.
I used to be afraid that something would happen with my little one if she got near the hive. However, the more education and experience I get with the bees makes me realize how safe she really is. So my gold nugget that I would like to share is; when we give ourselves and children more knowledge, the less fear there will be. Knowledge = power.
As you can see from the picture Lily only has a hood on and is looking into the hive. She was not afraid of the bees at all and I relaxed a lot! I just remembered to keep talking to her and that kept us both calm.
One of the best ways to save our bees is to stop fearing them. They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Bees are looking for food and have no intention on attacking unless they feel threatened. It has been an pleasure learning about these ladies and how they work. So proud of Lily for wanting to be the next generation of beekeepers. Stay tuned and learn what we are up to!