Memphis Backyard Farmer

Spring Bees
May 28, 2011, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Bee Keeping

It’s been a crazy spring this year. In case you haven’t heard (where have you been?) Memphis, home of the Blues, Elvis, and all things bar-b-que, has been submerged under a big stream called the Mighty Mississip. In all honesty, it was considerably less exciting than how it was portrayed in the media. But we really have seen more than our share of rain. It’s been hard on the bees. They haven’t been able to get out as often as they’d like. And my main field has been swamped to the point where it was all but impossible to get to my hives. So I haven’t seen my hives – except from the road – since early April when I put this year’s honey supers on.

I’ve been in high gear this weekend since it’s a long weekendand we’ve had great weather. We built 3 new supers to add to those already on hives. We inspected the hives here at the house and they look great. And today my number 2 son and I got to inspect the hives out at the field.

We have honey! We’re just a little behind last year’s production, but we should have our first “pull” in a few weeks.

Something about bee “breeds” that might be worth noting: I’m a huge fan of Russians. I’ve been running Russian bees for about 5-6 years. I moved to them because they over winter well and they’re resistant to mites. As we’ve tried to move away from chemicals and antibiotics, a hearty bee is an absolute must. Italians, on the other hand, have not been great for me. My first few years with them were bad. I lost more than a few hives each year. So when I found out that I had picked up a hive of Italians last year, I was disappointed. They didn’t build up much last year (never went beyond 6 frames), and I was sure they wouldn’t make it through the winter, but they did. Not only that, but they’ve built up faster than the Russians, which is unusual. But Italians have a reputation for putting up a lot of honey, and they are definitely doing that. My Ruskies are getting there, they’ve got honey in the comb, but my Italian girls have stuffed it in every cell and covered it over with a layer of pearl. I hope they’re able to stay healthy and fight off the critters, but in the mean time, I’ll enjoy what they’re known for and pull that sweet stuff off next week.

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