Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's bee season in the NW

This is the time of year to consider buying bees to start new hives.

A "package" of bees is a certain number of pounds of adult bees of various ages and a new, mated queen. The package itself is a small box, about the size of a loaf of bread, that has mesh sides. In the center of the package is a can which contains a sugar syrup to feed the bees during their shipment.

I'll have pictures of the package and bees when I get them, the first week of april, but RIGHT NOW is the time to order them if you want to have bees this year.

I've chosen to purchase the packages from this year; I haven't done business with them before, but as with all of my purchases I'm trying to support locals as much as I can and spread my purchases around. I have done business with Jim and The Beez Neez and do reccomend them.

The bees for the packages are usually drawn from hives in california and the vendors drive a trailer down, fill it with packages of bees, and then drive it back up here. A trailer might hold 500 packages, and each package is 40,000 or so bees, so we're talking 20,000,000 (twenty million) bees. A car accident could get really interesting.

The package is just the bees and the queen. to have a complete hive, you'll a hive body, top cover, bottom board, a feeder and frames. For an example of that and its cost, check this link.

April here is a little cold and rainy for the bees. Our primary source of nectar is the blackberry bloom, which occurs in May and June. There are other blooms, but that's where the bulk of the honey is laid on for my bees.

When you get the bees in april and provide them with bare frames, they have to build the wax combs that will hold the brood, honey and pollen that they collect. To aid them in that I feed them sugar syrup for the first two months. Basically as much sugar as they'll take. Once the natural nectar flow starts they switch to that. Doing this gives the bees a good headstart, so that they're in good shape to harvest the nectar when it appears.


Dave said...

How did your overwintered hives do ?
I went into winter with eight and am now down to six, kinda sucks but I learnt a lot from my first year.

Bruce King said...

I started with 11, ended with 7. usual amount of die-off over the winter. I'm ordering packages this year to widen the genetics of my colonies. Bring in some new blood.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bruce,
Will please answer the questions in the comments section of your post on February 17th?



Bruce King said...

Done. Let me know if I answered your questions