Remember when I told you I was getting honeybees? I’m so happy to report that last week, they finally arrived!

Here is the hive where my bees are living. I haven’t stained it yet (I’ll be doing that soon).

Chris Harp (my beekeeping teacher) helped me get my hive set up. It’s very inspiring to watch him with the bees.

My bees came in what is called a “nuc”.

A “nuc” (pronounced “nuke”) is a nuclear hive: a partially established hive of bees. Mine came as 5 frames, complete with about 18,000 bees and 1 queen. As you can see (though you may not know what you are looking at), the frames contain not just the bees, but eggs, larva, pollen and honey.

In this photo (below), you can see uncapped honey on the left and capped honey (the capping is the white) on the right. Uncapped honey has a high water/moisture content and should not be harvested because it will ferment. Capped honey has been sealed by the bees with wax; capped honey will not spoil and supposedly lasts forever.

In this photo, you can actually see “my” queen bee! The queen’s body has a longer abdomen, so her wings appear shorter and her thorax larger than the same parts on workers’ bodies. Chris was able to find her very quickly- amazing (to me) considering how many bees there were. There is only one queen per hive and she’s the most important member: is currently laying about 1500 eggs/day (!).

And in this photo, you can see worker bees as well as a drone (the drone is bigger than the others with big black eyes).

The one bee box you see is called a “deep hive body” or a “super”. It’s got 10 frames: the five frames from the nuc, plus 5 additional frames. Once it’s mostly filled up, which should be pretty soon, I’ll add another box on top. If and when the second box fills up, a third box can be added, and that’s the one from which we’ll be able to eventually harvest honey. It’s pretty rare to be able to harvest honey the first year because the bees need it to survive.

Now as you know, I am new to all of this, and that’s about all I can tell you right now (and I hope I got all my facts right). In the near future, I’ll be doing lots of reading (I am currently loving The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses) , taking a hive maintenance class, and observing Chris when he checks my hive for a while. I will keep you posted…but I bet you already knew that.

 

19 Comments

  1. 1

    The Healthy Hipster — July 8, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

    This is SO inspiring! Can’t wait to see how things progress :)

  2. 2

    Peter — July 8, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

    Excellent. Lucky you. Chris is great; I met him a few years ago.

  3. 3

    Ethan — July 8, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

    This is brilliant! Well, you may be a rookie, but it sounds like you know what’s going on and you have a great teacher!
    Can’t wait to see how the story turns out…

  4. 4

    kate — July 8, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

    Wow! How exciting! I’ve always been fascinated by bees…such amazing creatures they are. Thanks for the lesson!
    If I had a bigger yard and didn’t live in such close proximity to my neighbors, I would love to have my own hive. But, for now, I’ll live vicariously through you :)
    p.s. I hope I can try your honey one of these days!

  5. 5

    Liren — July 8, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

    Winnie, this is amazing! I have long wished for my own hive, I will have to live vicariously through you. Can’t wait to read more updates on your little guys!

  6. 6

    LiztheChef — July 8, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

    Really exciting!

  7. 7

    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — July 9, 2011 @ 7:19 am

    This is really fascinating, Winnie. I’m not sure I’d be a very good beekeeper, but I’m looking forward to following your experiences with them!

  8. 8

    sippitysup — July 9, 2011 @ 7:55 am

    Have fun with your bees. I think I have told you that I am an inadvertent beekeeper. I never invited them, but now that they are here I enjoy their company. GREG

  9. 9

    Cheri Sicard — July 9, 2011 @ 8:14 am

    I have a friend who wants to get bees. I must pass this along to her. Congratulations Winnie!

  10. 10

    foodwanderings — July 9, 2011 @ 9:51 am

    Winnie, congrats on the bee hive arrival. How fantastic and couldn’t read a better post with coffee this saturday morning!

  11. 11

    La Phemme Phoodie — July 9, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    Winnie I have to admit I am fascinated by this. Something I always wanted to know more about. Can’t wait to follow along with you!

  12. 12

    Oui, Chef — July 9, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

    Winnie- I’ve enjoyed getting to know my local bee-keeper at our farmer’s market, and can’t wait to hear more about your adventure. it sounds very exciting. – S

  13. 13

    Georgia Pellegrini — July 10, 2011 @ 9:47 am

    Congratulations! We just harvested our first batch of honey for the year at Tulipwood. It’s such a magical thing.

  14. 14

    Maria @ Scandifoodie — July 10, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

    I’m excited to have found this post! I’m thinking of attending a bee keeping course and would like to have native (Australian) bees in the future! Truly fascinating stuff! ;-)

  15. 15

    Dmarie — July 10, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

    sooo very jealous of your bees. we pay a fortune for raw, local honey around here, and you’ll be “growing” your own! wow!

  16. 16

    SMITH BITES — July 10, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

    am so inspired Winnie – we’ve wanted bees for a couple of years now but haven’t slowed down enough to take the necessary classes yet. hoping to soon!

  17. 17

    marla — July 11, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

    Can’t wait to follow your escapades with your honey bees :)

  18. 18

    gimmesymone — July 11, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

    There was a study about the effect of cellphone usage on the life of bees. Just be careful. This is so inspirational. I would love to have some later in life.

  19. 19

    George — July 12, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

    Very interesting. I like it !

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