Charlotte's sweet beekeeping adventures at Bluebird Gardens
You would think a snowy winter would be a quiet time for beekeeping but it's a surprisingly busy time.
While my bees are keeping warm and eating stored honey, I'm getting ready for the next, relatively short honey producing season.
In Missouri, the season runs from May to July. Some high-producing hives may produce a second, much smaller honey crop in early fall.
One of my chores this winter is to make new supers with new frames. The supers will be added to the hive tops as extra honey storage room. Each hive needs to store around 70 lbs of honey to make it through winter. Once they get that much honey, anything extra is honey I can harvest without taking winter food away from the colony.
After glueing and nailing four super sides, I painted only the outside and started to fill them with brand new frames where bees will make wax comb and store honey. Only six more to go!
It takes some finesse to work with honey. One of it's properties is that it's very sticky!
When cooking with honey, first spray utensils lightly with vegetable spray.
Allow to dry for a couple of minutes, then pour honey into it.
Vegetable spray will help honey slide smoothly from your measuring utensils and make clean-up easier.
Did you know it takes 12 bees their lifetime to make 1 teaspoon of honey?
If you're tempted to keep bees, order a few beekeeping catalogs to get familiar with terms, products and prices.
One of the best tips I can share is pick a company relatively close to your home. Beekeeping equipment is heavy and shipping prices can be daunting.
You can usually order catalogs online through major beekeeping companies like Dadant, Walter T. Kelly and Brushy Mountain.
My neighbor Rudy used to keep bees. He would periodically come by to retrieve them when a swarm would settle into one of my Chinese maple trees. He said they couldn't resist my garden, a mixture then of native Missouri wildflowers and garden center sale perennials.
Years later, when I put beekeeping on my bucket list, I thought about Rudy and how he would dress to get his bees - rubber boots, a stained white space suit, chicken wire veil. Those were his best tools.
My beekeeper's best friends include a veiled hat; good leather gloves; smoker; hive tongs and hive brush. I think Rudy would approve.
When I started keeping honeybees in 2010, I had no intention of falling in love. Bees, I thought, would be fun to add to the garden to help plant pollination.
I’m also developing my own lines of honey and bee-related products, not to mention being hooked on my own homemade whipped honey.
Have you tried it yet?