The Notebook*

So tell me, right now without peeking….what did you see in each of your hives during your last round of inspections? And the time before that? From which queen was each queen in each of your hives descended? Which of your hives was strongest coming out of winter? Was it the same hive as the…

Dire Straits*: Laying Worker Hives

Inevitably, every beekeeper finds themselves in that pickle we refer to as a “laying worker hive”. This is a hive which has for some reason been queeenless so long, usually 6+weeks, they have in desperation raised eggs laid by worker bees. Alas, worker bees have never been on mating flights, so they can only lay…

As the World Turns…

The spring has been late, chilly and wet here on the Salish Sea, and alas the delayed Oregon Maple bloom will likely fall during an untimely bout of rains, so little hope here of a spring honey harvest. Maple honey is chancy at best… We had unprecedented and catastrophic winter losses all over the area…

Boom and Swarm

It has been quite a winter. I was surprised to find half my colonies dead very early in winter, by mid-November. These were good colonies. Populous, well provisioned, most with fiesty new 2020 queens. The first hint I had that something was terribly wrong came in October, when in the very first cold weather I…

Even Beegirls get the blues…

Well folks, 2020 is finally drawing to a close. What a year. We all deserve a big hug, a cuppa tea and a cookie for making it through. For those of you who have been impacted directly by COVID, my condolences. It is a truly awful virus, turning our whole world upside down and costing…

Swarmapalooza?!?!

This has been an incredible year for bee reproduction, and for swarming. I have had non stop callouts since mid April from the new beekeepers in my area who needed help collecting their swarms, deciding what to do after a swarm, and in trying to prevent/manage further swarms. In addition, I have had swarms in…

Your First Nuc!

You decided to take the plunge and bought your first nuc of bees! Congrats, you! This year I saw for the first time ads featuring 4 frame nucs. Traditionally, nucs have been 5 frames: two frames of stores (honey + pollen/bee bread) and three frames of bees and brood plus the laying queen who created…

The (Varroa) Season Has Begun.

Buckle up kiddoes, this is a long one! Yesterday, March 6th, was so warm and sunny I was able to open the hives and grade the overwintered colonies. I never feel the season has really started until I can inspect the colonies, grade them, and renumber the hives to reflect hive strength coming out of…

Nearly There

The winter has flown by: first spring inspections are nearly here… Right off the top, this winter saw the bees hand in one of their best-ever overwintering performances. We had an unusually mild winter, to be sure, but there were two or three cold snaps, cold enough to kill the bees. And rain. Lots and…

Darwinian Beekeeping. Is. Not. Darwinian.

I was the kind of kid who holed up under the bunkbed on sunny summer afternoons, lost in a book. Books took me far beyond the pleasant bounds of my small town, and in their pages I took inspirational journeys across time and space. One of my favourite trips, one I took again and again,…

Caveat Emptor: Packages or Nucs??

In bee chat boards and Facebook pages across the country, the quest for colonies for 2020 has begun….anyone who has been hoping to get into beekeeping is looking around for a bee supplier. What is often missing is an elucidation of terms. Traditionally, a package is a box of bees with an unrelated but mated…