Friday, 6 June 2014

Where Is The Buzz?

You may be asking, "Yes, we've seen plenty of 'flutter', but where is the 'buzz'?

Well, I'm really missing the buzzing myself. These days when I walk past a luscious, pollen laden dandelion, or a sweetly scented apple blossom, I look for but do not see my lovely honey bee ladies harvesting the bounty.

After my disastrous winter die out of all six of my hives, I ordered two replacement nucleus honey bee colonies.  The cold and windy Spring has delayed queen rearing in this area, but it shouldn't be many days now until my new bees will be ready for pickup.

My brother, Robert, had wanted to acquire honey bees when he was a boy living on our family dairy farm. Dad said, no, they might sting the milk cows. Truth be told, I suspect Dad just did not want to add any more work to his already gargantuan list of chores.

Anyway, in the summer of 2009, my wonderful cousin, Peter, gifted me with two colonies of Italian honey bees as well as with hive tools, an extractor and with his expert mentorship. I was instantly hooked. In 2010 I bought a couple of Russian strain honey bee nucleus hives. The Italians were golden coloured and a bit reluctant to venture forth on cool mornings while the Russians were darker coloured, more active in cooler temperatures and more inclined to swarm. Both strains were sweet tempered. The bees currently on order are small dark bees whose ancestors were brought over from England in the middle 1800's. The great, great granddaughter of that beekeeper continues to raise those bees to this day. She says they are gentle, little dark bees that winter in small clusters and explode their population in Spring. I can hardly wait to welcome them home and watch them hard at work and buzzing their happy songs as they keep me company in the garden. No, I have not been drinking Pollyanna juice. I just adore bees.

Master beekeeper, Peter, checks the brood pattern.

Peter's Italian honey bees harvesting globe thistles.

Two frame extractor from Peter. Robert made a new crank and bucket clamps.

Alkanet flowers and a honey bee carrying black pollen.

A working lady harvesting nectar from a licorice mint bloom.

One morning I saw the girls doing a kind of line dance on this bottom board.

Our honey bees produce a delicately flavoured wildflower honey.

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