I know it. You know it. The Bee-SA has been much more quiet in 2018 than in 2017. And, it’s ironic too, because the Bee-SA 2018 edition is thriving even more than the 2017 one.
So, what’s been going on? First off, we started this year’s Bee-SA with a few important distinctions.
1. We had ten hives and their boxes fully built out with comb from last year. Bees reuse the comb, so this year the bees have much less work to do infrastructure-wise than last year.
2. Instead of introducing nucs with the traditional 5 frames of bees, we brought them in with 10 full frames of buzzing, hard-working bees. Again, less work for the bees to staff up.
3. We also started the bee season with a mega heavy duty fence ready to zap even the biggest bear. Just in case.
Bears? What do you mean? Well, the Bee-SA is rooted squarely in bear country. The black bear lives and eats and reproduces in our playground. And, boy are they cute. But as this summer can attest, they are also dangerous.
Here is a summary of the bears' work on my farm thus far:
1. Broke the windshield of my truck and removed the windshield wiper trying to get in to get some chicken feed that was there for less than 6 hours.
2. Scattered the garbage and feed bins around the yard after somehow sliding the near-to-impossible-to-open sliding shed doors open.
3. Ate a few hens after ransacking their coop and eating their feed. (No more feed in the coop for a midnight snack and only one hen remains.)
4. Moved on to my neighbor's hens -- eating 30 in three days.
5. Patrolled the house day and night looking for something to eat.
6. Sprinted across the yard, donkeys following anxiously along the fence line, to the apiary, hit the fence, bounced off, got up and hit it again and then ran off up the mountain... all the while my neighbors watching like it was a Netflix Original. I need to start charging for this stuff.
So, yes, the bees are fine. And, there are extra bees this year. Last year we had ten hives. This year we started with 18 and are now down to 13 (thankfully!). With each hive staffing up to nearly 100,000 bees each, peak bee season with 18 hives is a lot of bees.
And, while the bees are doing well and bear-free so far, they are ANGRY. At least one bee is assigned house duty, which means one single solitary bee (which is enough) attacks me when I come out on the patio. Not so fun. And even less fun when said bee attacks the beekeeper's husband when he is trying to take a nap al fresco. Ah, bees.
Why are they mad, you ask? Well, a mad bunch of bees is a good thing and a bad thing all at once. The bad part is obvious (a la patiogate above). But the good part is that mad bees are protecting something valuable -- their honey! So, our bees are making a lot of precious honey! Hooray!
Our Bee-SA community is strong. And the bees are strong too -- thanks in no small part to my five deceased hens and their 30 slaughtered neighbors for keeping the bears busy. Thank you, hens.
More on the bees soon!
XOXO Farm Girl