Monday, June 29, 2015
Dreams, they are wonderful things, aren't they? They keep you looking forward, learning and growing, and at times, push you out of your comfort zone a little bit. I have been dreaming about bees for a very long time. I did a workshop three years ago, my first experience hanging with bees, and I was mesmerized. It was a magical experience, and I was sure bees would be joining our little homestead the following spring. For various reasons, they didn't, and while I was sad about that, I knew when the time was right it would all fall into place.
Over the last three years, I have kept my dream of having bees alive, reading and researching, learning as much as I can, and gaining confidence that I could look after these amazing little creatures. A few months ago we made the decision that next spring bees will be joining us here, and with that decision came more questions, more research, and more planning. All of the beekeepers I know use Langstroth hives, and so it made sense we would follow the same route. That is until I found a beekeeping workshop focused on the top bar hive.
I spent a few hours on Saturday with a beekeeping enthusiast, and a handful of eager future beekeepers learning about the top bar hive, bees and their colony, and how to look after these magical creatures. It was an enjoyable afternoon, filled with lots of learning, and of course a taste test of delicious honey. Unfortunately, due to the rain, we couldn't open the hive, but we were able to take a look at it, discuss how it works, and even take a peek at what might be happening in the hive, based on the piece of paper you see above. Last week a piece of paper slathered with Vaseline was placed at the bottom of the hive to give the owners an idea of the mite count. It was rather amazing what this little piece of paper told us. At the far end, where it is bright yellow, that is fresh pollen, and shows us that is the entrance to the hive. Obviously as the bees enter the hive heavy with pollen some of it falls off, and was gathered on the paper. After that there is an area with less particles, that is where the queen and her colony are, and just past that there is some fuzzy looking remains, that is newspaper that was added to the hive to fill in a few holes. The bees obviously didn't like it so much, and chewed it up. This is a fairly new hive, and no mites were found, a good thing. It was amazing to be able to gain this much information about the hive from this piece of paper.
When the workshop wrapped up, I was on a bit of a high, and feeling the pull of the bees. We are excited to add them to our homestead next spring, and after much discussion on the way home, Justin and I have decided we are going to give the top bar hive a go. So exciting!!!
So, now the plans and preparations begin. Justin will be building the hive this fall, and I plan on doing more reading and research over the winter, thanks to wonderful resources shared with us on Saturday, and then late next spring we will be ready to welcome the bees.
This workshop was held at the most wonderful homestead/bed and breakfast in Kitchener, and I have to give them a shout out because that high I was riding when I left was not only because of the bees, but also because of the wonderful family that welcomed us into their space, shared information on building an outdoor cob oven (yes, we have plans to add one to our homestead), chatted with me about homeschooling, and made us feel welcome and comfortable on their homestead. Thank you Karin, Greg, Maya and Finley.