Things have been quiet on the FB front for Sweet Gum Farm but we (and the honeybees!) have definitely been busy bees! With the very short (almost non-existent) winter and the warm temps we’ve been having, the honeybees have been very active. I looked into 2 hives last week, a larger hive and a smaller one, and liked what I saw. Surprisingly, I also saw some drones (males) walking on the frames in the larger hive, as well as capped drone brood. Typically this would be incredibly early in the year to be seeing drones and drone brood but with the very warm winter, all we beekeepers can do is hang on to our hive tools and wait to see what this unusually warm winter we’ve had means for the coming year.
While we’ve been waiting to see what the weather would do before opening our hives for the year, we’ve also been busy preparing the woodenware (bee boxes, basically) for the coming year. I like to protect the wood with paint and to add a little color to the landscape by using different colors for the boxes. Mr. Sweet Gum Farm has been building new feeders for the nucs (small hive boxes) and the hives. Those tasks sound simple, don’t they? They take a lot of time, though. Proper preparation is not glamorous (hm, and those super-sexy beekeeper suits are?) but is necessary.
We here at Sweet Gum Farm also have another exciting development coming soon, but we aren’t quite ready to release it yet as I don’t want to jinx it. Hopefully this weekend we’ll be able to share a few pics and tell you our latest, not-in-the-honeybee-realm news. 🙂
With the lack of rainfall in our area this year, the bees are suffering. The plants that the honeybees rely on for nectar can’t produce that nectar if they don’t have sufficient moisture. If the bees can’t obtain nectar from those plants, they can’t make honey to feed themselves. If they don’t have enough honey to even feed themselves, we won’t take any honey from them. Our goal first and foremost is to have healthy bees. Already we have seen a difference in plant pollination on our property. In previous years we have only had an occasional few small apples and no pears on the fruit trees we have. This year we were shocked and delighted to actually have some apples and pears to pick for eating! The only difference on the property is the addition of the honeybees and our efforts at increasing the honeybee stock.
All of this to say that, despite the fact that we are not going to have extra honey this year, there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on here at Sweet Gum Farm. The girls are working their little wings off trying to get ready for winter. While we are disappointed at not being able to harvest honey for ourselves, we are nevertheless encouraged at watching the bees work and seeing all that they have accomplished despite the lack of water.
In addition to making honey, there are the many thankless, necessary tasks that all societies must have done–the hive is constantly being cleaned, there are nurse bees to constantly feed all the young larvae being raised, there are bees that act as security to keep out pests and invaders, there are bees who forage for pollen–and it is amazing to see all of this going on in the hives.
Hopefully next year we will have more rainfall and can enjoy the honey as well. 🙂