We bought our bees from a local honey producer. He provided us with the bees, their queen, a basic box hive, the extra super we requested, one beekeeper jacket and hood, a smoker, brush and a bee hive tool (a small pry bar). The bees were delivered after the Island blueberry pollination season.
We got one small harvest of three frames which came to 6 pint jars of honey before they had to tuck in for the winter. It was the best honey, as it was ours and it was from wide variety forage, not just blueberry fields or just buckwheat fields. I love our bees and am amazed at their “special purpose” in life.
Winterizing the bees for the first time took a lot of internet research and questions at the farmers market.
They need an upper exit, a little sugar to ensure they live, a mouse guard and finally a brick to keep them safe. We already put on a bottom board, two inches of solid foam and another bottom board; this should keep them warm without molding them up too bad, here’s hoping. Tell you if it worked in the spring. We used an old queen extruder cut to size covered in paper as a base for the sugar. A path was cut in the middle of the platform as well. The upper exit consists of a one inch tall box with a half by one and three quarter inch notch cut out on the side with the least wind.
Please don’t think that they are inactive when it gets cold. When we went to winterize one bee (it only takes one) flew straight out at W’s face, from his swat at it, the bee headed to me desperately trying to sting my head through a tightly pulled pony tail…inside to get on the bee gear. I have only been stung once, FYI I’m not allergic, and that’s enough. The one bee sting was in the late summer, the drones were being expelled from the hive and I was wearing wide leg cargo pants…you see where this is going, yes? One bee up your pant leg makes you appreciate tying a bow properly. I did not do this at the time so my bow knotted and I could not get my pants off (never really a consideration prior to the bee incident). Into the house I run; one dead bee later and a neat little sting above my knee I have a renewed respect for the hive.
That`s the story of our bees so far. I can sit and watch them for hours but until the spring they are locked up and out of sight.