Foraging Homesteading Honeybees

The bees are back!

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We're starting over, again. We lost our last colony of honeybees this winter. Unlike the year before, we fed them sugar water, and we protected their top bar hive from wind by surrounding it with hay bales. But we had a hunch that half swarmed and left while we were out of town last summer, leaving behind a weakened hive that didn't make enough honey to sustain them. 

So we have a new plan. And a beautiful new hive: a Warre.


We were racing daylight and raindrops. But everyone helped—from preparing the site and planting thyme around the base to assembling the boxes and waxing the bars. Just like with our top bar hive, we had to level this hive so the honeycomb they build will hang straight down from the bars inside.


The package of bees seemed fiesty—and that's good. They buzzed and bunched up all around their queen, who was suspended in the center. Despite their long journey from the South, the thin layer of dead bees in the bottom of the box were the only casualties. 

Michael removed the candy cork that keeps the queen segregated from the rest of the colony and replaced it with a bit of marshmallow. (Genius!) Now, the worker bees will eat through it as they get settled in their new cedar digs, which I treated with Tung Oil. By then, they'll all know eachother. And the queen will be free to give orders.


The rain finally stopped, and the apple tree is blooming just over their heads. Their new, more sheltered, spot is lovely and makes keeping an eye on them that much easier. Now I can't wait to see them fly.


1 Comment

  1. Victoria, Your story on the Forbes Website is awesome. As a mother of three (originally from Maine), I, too, nursed my three daughters for a total of seven and a half years (spread out over time). When I nursed the first time in 1971, I was a freak, paving the way for my children and your generation to have that option in a more accepting way (although, it’s still controversial, made so by drug companies wanting to sell their formula). I’m so pleased that some of us are back on a more natural path.
    And how brave of you to keep bees, like my uncle Joe did in Maine, too. If I could, I would, too. Having moved to California in 1992, my suburban, California neighbors might take issue, though, so I can’t join you there. I just keep gardening, inviting bees to my new world of wine. I blog too, I’m going to follow you on Facebook. You’re a young woman after my own heart.
    Congratulations for all you’ve accomplished.

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