Our bees are coming! Well so they tell us. It is a bit like waiting for an overdue baby! Each time we get excited that they are coming – they tell us our nucs are not ready.
For the uninitiated such as myself, a nuc is not an N – U as in umbrella and C as in cat but an N – U as in unicorn and C as in cat or short for a nucleus. It is where a queen has separated and started to form a new colony. They then put it into a box with 5 frames and on delivery you put it in to your waiting brood box.
Then the true wait begins. They orientate and start to gather pollen and nectar to make honey feeding and breeding their babies as fast as they can to inhabit the hive so that they can work to produce their food – honey. Our first aim they tell us this year is just to keep the hive alive. The percentages are extremely high for the death of hives throughout the nation here and across the world.
Without bees we are told there will be some big issues! So we are going to do our best to get these babies through the winter and hopefully enjoy the taste of success as well by being able to rob a little of their efforts for ourselves and our effort.
We purchased a plastic frame we were told is a good way to start and then found a design flaw which allows hive beetles (a pest) to crawl up into the sides and top and bees are unable to get to them. So last week I sat for hours pressing soft wax in to the frame edges to stop the beetles being able to get in to them. We will see if it works.
Paul, Naomi and I also prepared a lovely garden bed for them, sowing an amazing amount of wild flowers so they can feast throughout summer.
I am surprised at the amount of feeding you have to do currently as opposed to years gone by when the hives were virtually set and leave. Now there is quite a lot of “farming” needing to be done including keeping pests etc out and overrunning the hive. Paul is having flashbacks to his childhood when he used to watch his uncle care for over 80 hives. He is amazed at just how much he remembers, which is just as well. However, we are blessed by a lovely neighbour who is also secretary of the bee keepers guild we have joined who has agreed to be our mentor. My phone calls and emails are testament to her patience with us plus she is great at pulling ticks out!
It is all exciting and hard work as we work on the farm putting in loads of vegetables but we are enjoying the harvest of our first spinach and lettuce already! I love that you can taste the difference!
On the home front at the beach house we have been blessed by the two families of doves making their nests on and under the front verandah. What a sweet delight to watch the mummies and daddies do shifts in sitting on the nest and feeding their now hatched young!
They have both chosen prime real estate, one on the head of a stuffed antelope and the other under cross beams under the verandah. Both are out of the elements and away from predators!
Nature has been all over us with ticks and chiggers (don’t ask) but the birds and the bees are a nice bonus! Oh and don’t forget the 5 or so snakes we have found as Paul cleaned the wood pile! Unlike Australia – they were all harmless! We are arranging for an epee pen as part of our beekeeping tools and as well I made up an essential oil mix to keep the ticks at bay!
A recipe I found is as follows:
a base of coconut oil, drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree, lavender essential oils. I also added some water to enable spritzing but found on the first attempt I added too much, which watered it down too much. It does need to be reapplied frequently due to sweating and wearing off. I am happier using that then poisons.
So a lot of fun and hard work in the past few weeks, which meant having to make time while the weather is good to get things in to the ground and growing! But which meant little time at the computer to write!
So a change of pace at the beach, and then back over to the farm to hopefully await the anticipated arrival of our Nucs! Will keep you up to date on our journey into beekeeping.
Until next time (with photos of our newer babies)