Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beautiful Buzzing Bees

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Young honey bee working a dandelion blossom.
Spring has sprung and our Top Bar beehive is full of activity! We are pretty excited that our colony survived its first winter here. A big shout out to Gary, a local commercial beekeeper, for providing us with a healthy "wintered over swarm" that we used to colonized our hive last spring.

Currently, our fruit trees are putting on a major display of beautiful blossoms to attract our thriving bee colony. Some trees, in fact, are past the bloom stage and we can now see that adding the bees to our homestead has made a major improvement in blossom set.

The first to bloom was our three-year-old almond tree. Almonds need bees or similar pollinators in order to set fruit. With no bees in our neighborhood previous to this bloom, even though we've had plenty of blossoms, we got no fruit. This year is a different story - a tree now covered in small would be nuts!
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Our almond tree with first year of nuts! Thanks bees!

Next to bloom was the wild plum at the rear of our property. We planted this tree many years ago. One particularly harsh winter, the grafted portion was killed by an extremely cold storm. Within a couple of years new growth came up from the rootstock. The new growth blooms every year, yet we have never gotten any fruit. This year the bees worked extremely hard on this tree and we are hopeful that, unless it is a fruitless variety, the resulting fruit will be edible.

Currently two pears, a prune, and the Bing cherry tree are in bloom. The bees are proving just a industrious on these trees as well. The apple trees and pie cherry will follow, and if the weather cooperates, we may see full production in our orchard for the first time ever!
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These two Bing blossoms look to be hanging in there.


However, it is not just the pollination of the fruit trees that's stirred up excitement. A quick check inside the hive itself revealed lots of honey leftover from the bee's winter stores. With the coming of spring and the nectar now flowing again, that means we humans can safely harvest the remaining honey as the bees now have a new source in which to make more!

When we decided to become beekeepers it was primarily for the pollination aspect. The whole honey and bee's wax was just a bonus. As I read and learned about bees and the impact on their numbers in recent years it became obvious that establishing hives by backyard beekeepers was an important step in bolstering the survival of the bee population.


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We also love bumble bees as they are pollinators, too!
Homesteaders, especially those following organic and permaculture practices, are in a position to manage our few hives without the use of herbicides and pesticides. Just leaving the honey and pollen the bees have gathered in their hives to winter them over is a huge step in keeping them healthy. Think about it, if the honey and pollen has health benefits for us as humans, it could be detrimental to our colonies to removed all their stores and substitute sugar water and concocted  "protein" patties for their diet through the lean winter months! 

Needless to say, I'm a delighted beekeeper! The bees are doing all I had hoped . . .  and more. Welcome spring and another great nectar gathering season for our healthy and happy bee population!





BTW, here's some RAW footage of our buzzy bees working! 
(Note pollen stain around the hive opening.)







4 comments:

  1. I worship the bees! When I moved to the city I didn't realize how much I missed them (there were NO bees, at all - no birds for that matter either). What a relief when I moved back to the country - and the sound of bees!

    Popped in from the AtoZChallenge.

    thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for the visit! I'm really enjoying the A to Z Challenge and will click over to see your posts - as I'm a major advocate of thrifting! =)

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  2. Thanks for visiting my blog. Yours is very interesting. We're keeping a couple bee hives on our property for someone else, but I suspect before the year is over, we will be taking care of the bees.

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    1. Hi, Darleen. I found you on the A to Z list and am also following Janeen's blog. I hope you come to love the bees as your own - not as snuggly as a puppy or kitten, but they seem to capture you all the same! =)

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