Friday, November 16, 2018

Birds & The Bees / Hens & Hives / Chickens And Honey Bees

Last week we tackled some much needed bee hive maintenance.  Our hives have always sat back behind the house under some spindly trees.  If you know anything about hives, shade and bee hives aren't a good mix, so we began the task of moving them.

 If your wondering why bee hives and shade don't work well together, it's because of hive beetles.  Hive beetles love a cool comfy hive.   Even though our spindly trees didn't provide a lot of shade, it seemed to be enough that the hive beetles were taking complete advantage of the hives.  So I came up with the idea to put the hives in with my hens.  I believe they'll help to keep out beetles, roaches and wax moths.   These pests love to wreak havoc on hives and the hens will not bother the bees.  It's worth a try.  We are down to two hives now and I don't plan on losing anymore.  If bees are using all of there time and energy chasing around hive beetles, that is less time for making honey.

Our cold, long, wet springs that we have here in Southern IL make it difficult to keep bees.
Last February I checked my hives, at that time I had 4 hives.  The bees had plenty of honey and seemed to be doing well, by April two hives died.  What happened in that two

month time period?  Well I think it was the fact that it was warm in February and winter again all through March and April.  The bees died with a full box of honey.  I think it was possibly too cold for them to move from frame to frame to access the honey.

When moving hives, make a plan of where you will sit them.  You want them sitting in full sun (which makes it miserable for us to tend the hives) and fairly close to a water source.
The night before you're going to move them you need to block the hive entrance.  This is probably needles to say but if you move the hive in the middle of the day and you've not blocked the hive entrance, the bees that are out foraging will come back to where the hive was sitting and it will be gone.
They will not just find the hive.
Also if you try to move the hive and the entrance is not blocked you will have some pretty angry bees by they time your finished.

Larry strapped the hive boxes together.  It's surprising how heavy the boxes are when they're full of honey and they can easily tip and that would be a disaster. 

Next he loaded them one at a time into the tractor dirt scoop and heading for the barn.

We prepared the platform and the ground that the hives will sit on.  It's a good idea to sit them high enough that your not bending over when your tending the hives and if they're elevated skunks are less likely to bother them.
The hives will be sitting in the Lavender Orpington pen, with hopes that they will help with beetle battle.

We spread several bags of barn lime under the hive platform.  This is also suppose to help control hive beetles.  We'll see, it's very inexpensive so it can't hurt to try.  I'm sure the hens will love scratching around in it also.

He sat the hives on the platform.  Two hives are a good number for us.  When we had more it felt a bit over whelming.  I don't have a lot of time to spend tending to them, so two is perfect for now.   Plus we get a hole lot more honey than we can ever use.

Don't forget to unblock the hive entrance when your finished.  Might want to do this part with your bee suit on.  Since it is now November, we only give them a very small entrance hole to keep mice out and put on a bottom board to keep the wind out of the hive.

I shared this photo a couple of weeks ago and someone asked the question, why does it look grey and fuzzy?  Each frame can have a different color of honey and a different color of wax.  It just depends on what the bees are gathering from.  This grey fuzzy looking one is really dark brown honey, almost the color of molasses and the wax cappings are almost white, giving it a grey fuzzy appearance.
Another person wanted to know how much honey can you get from two hives.  We harvested around two five gallon buckets of honey plus around 7 or 8 frames that we used as cut comb.  That's a lot of honey and if we had spent more time working the hives we probably could have gotten more.

Hopefully our moves help to cut down on beetles and wax moths.  I'll give you an up date sometime in the summer.
Have a blessed day!


1 comment:

  1. I was under the impression you can only move a hive under 2 feet or over 2 miles....2 feet at a time so they can find the hive.