We have started taking plants and boxes of household goods to the farm — just what will fit in the vehicles each time and what we have had time to pack. Most of the bee stuff is down there now, which makes getting around in the 40-foot container challenging! Still, the bees are rapidly going through the frames we’ve built, so empty totes come back to the city with us in time to be refilled.
Building the shop has become a priority so that we have more space to put things and so that we have a clean space to sling honey this summer. As we want to sell in Georgia, we need to be certified in Georgia. Hubby spent most of the weekend leveling the shop site and was working on trenching to install conduit last time I talked to him. (I came back early to get laundry done for the week.) Our neighbor has been a great help, both in terms of giving advice and helping on the tractor. His company will be pouring the slab next week and then the construction can start. It’s exciting!
Even though there was a lot to get done, hubby was still willing to help me get spring bulbs transplanted. They’re all looking rather sad right now, but I know from experience that they’ll look great next spring, if not before. The grass and wildflower seeds are doing well, and I added some clover seed and fertilizer yesterday. If we can just get enough growing to slow down the erosion, we’ll have a less muddy driveway when we get those Southern downpours! The drainage ditches hubby, my brother-in-law, and I have cut are making a huge difference, and plants will just be the final touch we need.
Of course, we didn’t neglect the bees this weekend, even with all the other tasks we needed to accomplish. We had to replace the bellows on one of our smokers, and we love this new Pro Bellow from Mann Lake. There’s a nozzle at the bottom that blows air directly into the smoker, and that has made it easier to get the smoker lit. I’ll let you know how it holds up, but for now I’m sold!
I intended to just check the queenless hives, but we ended up checking all the hives for space after seeing how much nectar the bees have brought in over the past week. Two hives have already started capping honey, and I only saw three small hive beetles all day. There were no new wasp nests started in lids, but there were enough cockroaches on top of inner covers to keep the hair on the back of my neck standing up! Talking of hair — if you have short hair, don’t pull your hat too tight — hubby got stung on his head through his cap yesterday!
We continue to use a combination of methods to track what’s going on in hives. A flat brick indicates that the hive has a laying queen, and an upright means that the hive is queenless. In addition, I write notes on the lids with a Sharpie. We have three hives with queen cells that have hatched since last weekend, but I didn’t see a queen yesterday, so I like having that history at my fingertips when I go to recheck. Then we have a spreadsheet in which we track hive inspections, treatments, and mite counts. That’s becoming quite time-consuming and I’m working on automating some of the reporting and tracking, although I probably won’t get much done until summer. As my new school starts the new year 3 weeks earlier than South Carolina schools, and we need to get this house on the market, and build the workshop, and move my work clothes, I may not find much time to refine the database while keeping up with a growing apiary! It’s a good set of problems to have!
We’re looking forward to May’s Mid-Carolina Beekeeper Association meeting on Tuesday. Has it really been a month since the last meeting? Time flies in spring, which is why we all have to get hive equipment ready in winter!
Enjoy the (finally) warmer weather and take time to smell the roses.