Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bee Log #10: February 2, 2010

The above pictures were taken at the Washington Park Arboretum January 15, 2010. The building shown is the Graham Visitors' Center, meeting place of the Puget Sound Beekeepers' Association.

I am happy to report that we have recruited 5 homeowners located in north Seattle that are very interested in having bees placed in their yards. Thank you to those homeowners. We are hoping to promote bees as a wonderful hobby that can be pursued by the average person and to increase our honey harvest.

My husband and I will be placing 2 hives each on 4 of these properties and one hive on the remaining property. We have ordered 8 packages of bees and will use one hive from our current stock. This is as big as we wish to get this summer. It is important that we not expand beyond our capacity to manage our bees since they are placed in an urban environment. All of the bee-placement homeowners are very enthusiastic and I aim to keep it that way! They are hosts of living creatures and we are responsible for the care of those creatures.

We have decided to use western size brood boxes with plastic frames for the interior. The western boxes are 6 1/4 inches high and much lighter than the standard deep box especially when full of honey and brood. The plastic frames come as one piece and don't require assembly or wiring. We also won't have problems with broken wires or frames coming unglued when we try to pull them out of the hive. The bees are said to do fine on the plastic.

I have gotten my apprentice beekeeper certificate through the Puget Sound Beekeepers' Association. My husband is currently studying for the required test.

The weather has been unseasonably warm (a record for January in Seattle). The bees have had opportunities to fly for a few hours each day. They are bringing in pollen of several colors! Many plants are blooming including the earliest plums and crocuses. One of our hives is especially active. Another hive is showing little activity (I know it is still alive and has sufficient stores of honey). We will see what this means for those hives later on. I do not have enough experience to do more than guess. I will wait for a few weeks to do an inspection of the interior of the hives as it not warm enough to risk chilling any baby bees (brood). Warm is a relative term in Seattle! The temperature has been in the low 50's rather than the usual mid 40's.

We are hoping to return to the Phinney Farmers' Market in early July. With more hives, we should be better able to keep up with the demand for local raw honey.

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