Archive for March 14th, 2012

Bee-gicide

My basement is now full of unpainted supers rather than unassembled supers…and that’s where things are coming to a standstill for the time being.  Unfortunately our initial order of supplies came with the wrong size frames for the boxes we ordered (I was initially certain I ordered the wrong size, but a look at the invoice had me in the right).  Fortunately the company’s customer service absolutely awesome, so I should have replacements by next week.  So awesome I’m not going to mention who they are because I don’t want google searches to potentially bring up my story of wrong frames.

It’s a good thing they’re acting fast on a replacement, because the members of the club who overwintered nucs are reporting they’re shocking close to transplant ready.  Last week I talked about nucs vs packages, an overwintered nuc is just what it sounds like, one that was split off from the parent hive in the late fall and has developed on their own for the last several months.  These overwintered nucs typically spend most of the winter dormant, but that’s because they also spend most of the winter being much colder than they were this year.  Since we won’t know where our nuc is coming from or whether it was overwintered until we get a fateful call one day, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll get our bees earlier than expected.  But we may, and I want to be ready to go with all woodware assembled.  Fortunately we have a few preassembled frames in the right size so even if the bees came tomorrow we could keep going for a week or so.

In last night’s beekeepking class we learned about regicide.

Okay, no we didn’t.  But that’s how I portrayed it last week on the blog, and at several points on Twitter.  It turns out the number of times that a beekeeper will go into the hive for the purpose of killing the queen are quite low.  Even in those times where the queen must be removed for the good of the hive, the master beekeeper running the class (yes, that is a specific title with well regulated testing requirements to earn it) says she’s more likely to move an old queen to a nuc just to see how she does.  Though this master beekeeper also runs 80 hives in two locations, not the two hives we’re starting at or the four hives that Fairfax County caps us at1.

Last night’s class was really about the beekeeping year.  About how we’re going to be sweating our asses off in protective clothing in late July and early August to harvest the honey.  Fighting the temptation to stick our noses in the box whenever we want.  Feeding bees when they’re hungry and leaving them the hell alone when they’re pissed off and being overly protective of their brood.

It’s work, but it’s worth it.  In two weeks they’re talking about bringing in a mead-maker to discuss the process of turning our honey into sweet, sweet wine.  Unfortunately we meet in a public school, so no tastings allowed.  It might not happen, but it might, and that makes me happy, cause that’s what I wanted to do to begin with.


1 The same Fairfax County ordinance that caps us at 4 hives for our lot size also dictates how many farm animals one is allowed to have.  It does this by creating the terms “animal unit” and “bird unit.”  For those interested, Fairfax County at the time I wrote this blog post defined an animal unit as 3 cows, 5 sheep, 3 horses, 5 goats, 5 llamas, or 5 alpacas, and a bird unit as 32 chickens, 16 ducks, 8 turkeys, or 8 geese.  Now you know.  The rules are more complex than that, and this isn’t a legal blog or official advice, so go check it out for yourself in FCZO 2-512 if you’re really curious.

No Comments

%d bloggers like this: