|My Mister with the packaged bees and their traveling cage.|
For our anniversary, we bought a second beehive. Some people might think we're nuts, but in my book, harvesting honey from your own hive ranks right up there with meeting Joel Salatin. Last fall, we pulled 4 gallons of the sweet stuff out of our hive. It was our first harvest and we didn't expect much, but were thrilled with those 4 gallons!
To put things in perspective~To buy 1 gallon of raw, unpasteurized honey would cost approximately $45/gallon. That would be a total cost of $180 for 4, if we could find it. Once our hive was set up, our only expenses have been in sugar (for late winter feeding) and some mite medicine. (This is a must. Mites can settle in and take out an entire hive before you even know there's a problem.) An established hive can produce 5-6 gallons of harvestable honey and still leave plenty in reserves for winter feeding.
For our first hive, we purchased a nuc kit. This is a hive that has already been established. The beekeeper introduces the bees into the hive and allows them time to set up their "home" before transferring them to the new owner. This was a great way to go as beginning beekeepers since we didn't have a clue as to what we were doing.
And, we were a little scared if truth be told.
With hive #2, we decided to go with packaged bees. This is what a person would do if they already had all the equipment, or needed to replace a dearly departed colony. (Swarming or loss to illness.) Even though we've had a little experience now with our bees, buying packaged bees was a new experience.
And yes, it was a little scary too.
If you are planning on starting hives, now is the time to pick up your bees. Most bee supply companies require a pre-order, but sometimes there are extras available. Check to see what is available in your area. Packaged bees are available now, with nuc hives coming soon-after. If you get your hives set up now, you'll be able to start harvesting honey next year! (The bees need time to build comb and get their winter food supply in.)
~How to install packaged bees~
Before picking up your bees, make sure your hive is painted. Because it is out in the weather, it can leak (as we learned the hard way!) into the hive and cause mold.
|Use an outdoor latex paint and stick to light colors.|
|Beekeeping in the dark~NOT the way it's supposed to be done.☺|
|They like her!|
|The queen nestled down in the box for night 1.|
|Setting the bee cage into the hive|
Then walk away. Even if you want to stay out in the dark all night to make sure none of the bees try to fly away...
Introducing a New Bee Colony, Part 2
*This post is linked to The Homestead Barn Hop.