Chronicles from the Hive
Now that the efforts of our #No Mow May are being enjoyed by our little honey bees, and many other creatures that thrive on wildflowers and grasses, they are in full honey production! We thought it would be fun to give you some insider information on the world of bees in our hives.
It’s almost time for our Spring Honey Harvest, and things around here are buzzing! We’ve even added a new hive, which has been flourishing, and we posted a few videos on social media to show you what this entailed. If you don’t follow us, now’s the time! On Facebook and Instagram you can find us at @littlebeeofct. We’re constantly posting photos, articles and stories about our passion: Bees! And of course, all the wonderful things you can make from beeswax and honey.
Did you know that a worker honey bee only lives for six weeks?
During her short lifespan, each little bee will have six important jobs, which rotate week to week until it dies. What are those jobs you ask? Keep reading and Scott from Little Bee of CT will answer that question and a few more that might interest you.
Beekeepers, or Apiarists as they are also known, raise honeybees either for the production of honey and honeybee products or, in bigger operations, for crop cross-pollination. It is the responsibility of the Beekeeper to build and service the hives, harvest honey, and to monitor the health of the hive through each of the seasons.
At Little Bee of CT, we raise honeybees for their honey and wax production.
There are many facets of our beekeeping that we want to share with you, whether you’re a beginning (or seasoned) beekeeper yourself or are simply interested to learn more about this fascinating practice. We’ve gathered the most-asked questions from our many years in business and will answer them here.
However, before we get into our Q&A, we would like to ask YOU a question!
Which category would you say you fall into?
- A) I’m ready to suit up and enter a hive to experience the activity firsthand!
- B) I would love to get close to a hive to watch an experienced beekeeper at work!
- C) Um, there is no way I’m getting within 20 feet of an active hive!
We hope you’re on the “A-team” like us! But it’s ok if you’re not ready to step into an actively buzzing hive. It does take some getting used to! Scott and his family have been doing this for years, and have turned what was once just a new, fun hobby into a thriving business..
Now let’s get some answers to your most-asked questions!
Scott has already been in the hives in the last few weeks to make some necessary adjustments/additions and to start the prep work for the Spring honey harvest.
Q: How did you originally get into beekeeping?
A: Back in 2012 we were pumpkin picking near Rhinebeck, NY. We stopped at a farmer’s market where a beekeeper was selling honey and he showed us an observation hive he had in his booth. I asked how he became a beekeeper and his story intrigued me. So, I started reading up on bees and took a couple of beekeeping classes at Flanders Nature Center in Woodbury, CT. After that I was hooked.
Q: What is your go-to source for beekeeping info and updates?
A: There is a ton of info online. When I first started, I learned a lot from Long Lane Honey Farms. They had these great short reads about all thing’s beekeeping. I also learned from Scientific Beekeeping which appealed to my engineer mindset. There are also many local, regional, and national Facebook groups that have been helpful as well.
Q: Do you, or did you, have a beekeeping mentor?
A: I don’t currently have a mentor. I’ve kept in touch with one of my instructors, Kevin Barry of Woodbury Farm Feed and Power Equipment, over the years. His course, called Bee-ginnings, had a great impact on my love of bees.
Q: How often can you harvest honey from an active hive?
A: Here in Connecticut we have two honey harvests per year. The first one is usually mid-June. The bee’s nectar sources for this first harvest are dandelions, clover, and other spring flowers. It produces a light golden color honey. The second harvest is in mid-September. This time the nectar sources for the bees are things like buckwheat and goldenrod. The honey from the fall harvest is a much darker color with a more complex flavor. If you’ve never had it, try it, you’ll be amazed.
Q: Do you harvest wax or any other byproducts from your hive?
A: When we harvest honey, we cut the beeswax cappings off of the frames to allow the honey to be spun out. The wax cappings are cleaned and used as a part of our skin care products.
Q: What are the products that Little Bee of CT makes from beeswax?
A: We produce hand-rolled beeswax candles in a variety of sizes. From single votives, to taper pairs, to 5 inch diameter pillar candles. We also produce non-toxic skin care products including body salves, lip balms and solid perfumes.
Q: How do you keep a hive free from parasites and other destructive creatures?
A: A strong and healthy hive will do most of the work to keep parasites in check. We also utilize Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to give the bees an advantage. These practices are a natural way to keep the pest population at a manageable level for the bees. Little Bee never uses chemical treatments on any of its hives.
Q: What are your favorite, and least favorite, parts about beekeeping?
A: My favorite part of beekeeping is teaching people about how amazing and intelligent bees really are. 50,000 plus tiny insects working together for the benefit of the whole hive. Building comb, tending to the queen and her eggs, producing honey. Did I mention they do this all in the dark interior of the hive?
My least favorite is beekeeping in the summer heat. It gets hot very quickly in that bee jacket. Getting out there early in the morning helps a little but not for long.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring beekeeper?
A: Read books. Take a class. Shadow a beekeeper. There’s plenty to learn. This will help you determine if you are ready. It may seem cool, but I’ve seen that opinion change once someone is in the suit surrounded by bees. If you decide you want your first hive, find a mentor. Someone local who you can ask questions to or have help with hive inspections until you’re confident in your abilities.
Q: Everyone wants to know…have you ever been seriously stung while working in the hives?
A: Nothing that I would call serious. Just localized swelling and itching. Stings happen to me a couple times a year. One will sneak up a pant leg, or get under the waist of the jacket. Thankfully never in the face. Wouldn’t want to have to go to my day job looking like I got in a fight.
And now for that question we mentioned at the beginning of this post.
What are the six jobs that each worker honey bee performs during its six-week lifespan?
A: 1 to 2 Days Old: Housekeeping – Cleaning cells.
3 to 5 Days Old: Nurse bee – Feeding older larvae.
6 to 11 Days Old: Nurse bee – Feeding younger larvae.
12 to 17 Days Old: Maintenance – Build comb & remove dead bees.
18 to 21 Days Old: Guard bee – Protect hive entrances.
22+ Days old: Forager – Leave hive to collect pollen and nectar.
Now that is definitely a lot of bee-utiful information about bees and beekeeping. If we didn’t answer your question, please email us at email@example.com, and we hope to have more posts like this in the future. Contact us and let us know what you think!
Don’t forget to follow @littlebeeofct on Instagram and Facebook where we will post all for all of our honey harvest announcements. All products mentioned in this post are available at www.littlebeeofct.com. Thanks again for supporting Little Bee of CT and the beekeepers around the world.