Bienenwachskerzen: Rein. Schön. Gesund.
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My first Year with Bees

My Bees

I'm so happy to be able to write this post. Cause that means my bees have survived with me for over a year now. And we had a lot to learn. Well, not the bees, just me. So here we go, the top ten mistakes I made during my first year of beekeeping.

1. Take off your rings if you get stung on a finger

You may remember that we had our terrace redone last Summer. A bit of bad timing as I had to move the bees. Thus, I had to remember quite a few things to bring with me for my hive inspections and sure enough, I forgot my gloves one day. And of course it was this day that my bees were not happy to see me when I opened the hive. They came out in full force. I closed them back up right away but in the midst of it all, two ladies decided to punish me by stinging my fingers. My first thought: that's not so bad after all. So I made the critical mistake of not removing my rings. Almost 12 hours later, the swelling started. And it happened so fast I had no chance to get my rings off. Ouch!

2. Move the car

Come March/April as soon as the temperatures begin to rise, those bees are going to want to get out of the hive and have a potty break, otherwise known in bee language as a cleansing flight. Bees are very tidy and don't like to poop in their house. Their flight route goes right over the driveway where the car is parked. I came out one morning and found my car covered in yellow bee poop. Yuck!

3. Separate the first box from the second box

Propolis is some pretty amazing bee glue. I rarely checked the bottom brood box during my first year of beekeeping. I didn't want to disturb the bees more than necessary during inspections. But after a year, those ladies sure did glue the two boxes together. It took quite some force and tools on my part to get them apart in the spring time. 

4. Get a feel for the weight of the hive

I was so worried my bees didn't have enough food this winter. But I also didn't want to open them up and expose them to the cold (although cold bees are better than starved bees). For this reason, it's a good idea to tilt your hive and get a feeling for the weight every once in a while. That way, come winter a quick tilt of the hive gives you a feeling of their food stocks.

5. Prepare the sugar water in BIG containers

I thought I was being smart by purchasing two 5 liter containers for my sugar water  as that is the exact amount I needed to feed my bees. Well, sugar water is a very sticky matter. I know, I know. Obvious. I mixed my sugar water, barely having enough room to stir the solution without splashing it all over the counter. But the worst was yet to come. Like I say, my bees were not on my terrace last August so I had to drive everything to them. I packed my 5 liter containers into a cardboard box and put them in the trunk of my car. Off I went with 10 liters of sugar water down a very bumpy road. Let's just say this was NOT a good idea. I now own 10 liter buckets for my sugar water.

6. Put dead bees in an outside trash can

I thought they were dead, they really looked dead, laying on their backs in the front of my hive. So being a tidy beekeeper, I swept them up into the dust pan and put them into my kitchen trash can. Well, all of that trash can warmth must have caused a miracle cause next thing I knew, I went to throw something away and out came a bunch of rejuvenated bees looking for their hive.

7. Sugar needs to be wet to harden

Mid-Winter I was really worried that my bees didn't have enough food. I wanted to offer them a so-called sugar cake just in case. I thought the idea of a sugar cake sounded much easier than the messiness of mixing boiling water and sugar to make sugar candy. But instead I wasted 2 kg of sugar that never hardened with the 1/4 liter of water added to it.

8. It's much easier to work behind the hives
For space reasons, I placed my hives directly against the wall of the house. This allowed me to only work from the side of the hive. Not ideal as I found myself standing right next to the hive entrance and disturbing the bees. Also, those little ladies pooped all over the side of the house. I've since moved them forward a bit so I have room to work behind them. They also no longer need to fly so close to the wall of the house, hopefully keeping it poop free.

9. Put a suit on if you need to do any yard work in the bees flight path

I have a beautiful bed of flowers directly in front of my two beehives. Good for the bees. Good for the flowers. But sometimes, the flowers need a bit of loving care. And sometimes, I'm too lazy to put on a bee suit just to do some weeding. But, I won't make that mistake again. I have long curly hair, not easy to escape from if you get trapped. Poor bee. Poor me. 

10. Only store clean frames for the winter

Or the wax moth will come. I thought I was clever and wrapped my frames in layers of plastic wrap. Nope. Wax moth infestation! So this year, I will have to freeze any frames that had contained brood. The honey frames over-wintered fine. No protein in honey so the moth isn't interested in that.

So if you also have bees, it's your turn. What mistakes have you made?



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