It Started With a Road Trip, the start to becoming a beekeeper
Last year in March 2019 my girls and I took a road trip to Moab, Utah for spring break. On the drive over we stopped in Palisade, Colorado to spend the night with friends.
I didn't know at the time that Palisade was a great area for Lavender as well as Peaches and Corn to grow. I learned that the sandy soil in that part of Colorado is perfect to grow Lavender!
That got me thinking............... my parents property is almost all sand. When we got back from Moab, I started talking with my parents about planting lavender on their perfectly sandy property 10 minutes away from me.
In May of 2019 we planted 25 lavender plants in 4 varieties. In June my mother and I took a lavender growing and tending class from a local grower in Northern Colorado. It was a very insightful class.
May 2019 Planting day
In July we returned to Palisade to visit our friends again.
This time on our way out of town we stopped at one of the local lavender farms.
Sage Creations Lavender Farm
We collected baskets and clippers and headed out in to their lushes fields of lavender.
That's when I saw the bees!
More flowers, more pollen, more bees, more honey, happy nature and on and on. I could have followed the bees around all day there.
That just got me even more excited.
Fast forward to December 2019...
I have wanted to raise honey bees for years!
The more I learned about them, the more I wanted my own hive.
2020 was my year!
So in December 2019 I signed up to take a beekeeping class from the Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association (NCBA). Along with the benefit of learning from a master beekeeper, I also got a one year membership to the NCBA.
They are a wealth of knowledge and help to a first year beekeeper. My classes started in January and went through February 2020.
When bees became available to purchase in January I bought mine from To Bee or Not to Bee in Littleton, Colorado. https://www.tobeeornottobee.us/
NCBA gets a little discount from them. You have a choice to by a Nuc (nucleus colonies, are small honey bee colonies created from larger colonies. It is so named because its box is smaller size box, and the colony of honey bees is in it.
A bee package ia a wooden frame box with screen on two sides. It is used to transport bees to a new hive. Packages are sold by the pound. There are roughly 3500 bees per pound so a three pound package contains around 10,000 bees (bees and 1 queen in a cage) I went for a Nuc of Italian Bees.
My dad and I picked them up the first weekend of May.
Your hive should face South or Southeast.
We chose to face it South and set up hay bales around it as a wind block. What you see in this image is listed below along with the cost of what I have purchased thus far.
1 Deep Hive Body (large white box) with 10 frames in it.
On top of that (the unpainted box) that is a feeder. Inside of that box is 8 cups of sugar water 50/50. That is temporary until spring is in full bloom.
On the very top is the top cover. (silver top painted white under)
There is an inner cover on top of the feeder that you can't see. There is an open space between the feeder box and the deep hive box for the bees to go in and out of it.
The brick on top is to help the lid not blow away.
All of this is sitting on top of a bottom bored, hive stand and cinder blocks.
Let me lay out some costs for you....
Beekeeping Class $135
Bees Nuc $195
10 Frame deep hive body, inner cover and top cover $82
Bottom board $16.43
Hive stand $16.43
50 Sheets of wax and wire fondation (that is what goes in the frames) $61.80
Beekeeping Suit x2 $165
Goatskin Gloves x2 $51.40
Top Feeder $26.95
Extra 10 deep hive body only $32.95 (You will need this extra one after the bees have filled out 7 frames in their 10 frame hive) Smoker $43.95
Smoker fuels $8
Bee Brush $5.95
Multi Purpose tool $14.95
4 bales of hay $40
4 cinder blocks $16
I don't want to total that....
Udate (YTD 8/25/2020 $1,700.00)
That brings me to Mother's day!
On mother's day I did my first full hive inspection.
I was super nervous.
But then I saw her!
The Queen! She has the big black spot on her back.
Worker bees arriving
Inbetween week 2 and 3 I met a new beekeeping friend. I was stalking her on a Facebook bee group page that we are in. She put a picture up of the most beautifully painted hives. I reached out to her to see if she could paint my second deep 10 frame hive body for me. She said yes, and I made a new bee friend!
Little did I know a few days later she would call me asking to help her gather her hive that had swarmed up in to a tree. After getting a crash course in how to collect a swarm, I was feeling a little more confident as a beekeeper.
This coming week I will be putting the newly painted deep on top of this 10 deep hive to give them more space to expand. You can see in the picture above a healthy frame covered in brood (baby bees) and larvae.
In the image above you can see the white things curled up in the bottom of a cell. Just to the top right is the queen sticking her but into the very bottom of the cell.
Her eggs stand straight up.
She is the only bee that can lay eggs like that.
If you see an egg on the side of a cell, you know you have a laying worker bee.
No good. So you check your hive often to make sure all is running well. This image was taken with a Canon 100m L macro lens.
Bellow are a few of the types of bees that are in the hive.
Everytime I go in to the hive I learn something new.