Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Beginning: June 2012

View of my new hive

The adventure started in June of 2012. A friend at work took a bee course and purchased a new small hive in a deep. Unfortunately, the community where she resided asked her to remove the hive after a complaint. Although all her neighbors supported her, sometimes all it takes to ruin urban beekeeping is one person with a view of the hive, it seems. I stepped in and purchased the hive from her and, with no training, began beekeeping.

I equate my first year's beekeeping to being on a plane where the pilot dies. You get behind the controls and try to land without killing everyone, all the while being patiently guided and coaxed by someone in the control tower. It was a rough landing. But survivable!

Ian Farber helped me select a spot in my yard, and stopped by a couple of times to offer some great encouragement and advice. The results of his  advice in guiding bee flight around the hive can be seen in the photo above. The hive is surrounded by six foot lattice, and is positioned just below the back retaining wall and fence, barely visible. The lattice allows people to move freely around the yard without being molested by bees, especially important because the stairs to the upper yard are at the archway to the right, and the garden access is beside the upper lattice  Behind the fence in this picture is the only neighbor whose property is against mine. My property is bounded on the other side by a right-of-way  and by a green-space behind.portion. The hive is also hidden from view from outside the yard, for the most part, even to people walking in the green-space above due to the slope of the yard.

The bees swarmed without me even noticing, of course.

I joined the Kamloops Bee Club and attended their yearly picinic. There I met Ed Zurawell and his daughter Melissa. They soon discovered that I needed some help. Some people need directions. Others need to be held by the hand and shown the way. Count me in the group "others".

Ed and Melissa became my mentors. Ed came over numerous times during that first year, guiding me through hive examinations and manipulation, queen recognition, determining hive health and strength, etc. His first examination with me went along the lines of:

"Gee, Greg, you don't have that many bees and I don't see any eggs! What happened to your queen?"
"That's her right there"
"No...that's a drone"

The hive raised a new queen to replace the one that left with the swarm I missed, of course, and we even found a new un-mated queen shortly there-after. By the end of the season I had a healthy population but not enough honey to bother extracting.


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