Monday, September 05, 2016

Bee Keeping

Mitch has been bee-keeping with his dad this summer. It has been quite a journey! It has been something that he has taken the kids along to do. He has read books, watched videos, and gone to meetings. He has been through a range of emotions too--giddy in love with his bees, to having terrifying nightmares of being attacked. :) He has spent many, many hours this summer taking care of them, and he is sure that he has been in trouble with me because of it. (There may be a little bit of truth to that.)

Here are some incredibly beautiful pictures Kathi took when she was here this summer...

Mitch said his bees were being "naughty" and built this strange comb.

This was one of his bee yards back in July. We live on the edge of the city, right up to where the farmlands begin. Mitch simply drove around talking to people until he found two perfect spots for bee yards. So his bee yards are on borrowed land. The bees will stay there all winter long.

This weekend Mitch and his dad were out checking on some of his dad's hives, which are also on borrowed land. They talked with the land owner, who mentioned he was trying to get rid of some wasps that had a nest in a shed on his property. Mitch and his dad went to check it out and found a wild honey bee hive. It was incredible!

They worked to remove the bees, but it was a difficult process. There are so many bees!! Nightmares? I might have nightmares and I wasn't even there! ::shudder::

Today Mitch wanted to go out to feed his bees and I decided to go along. He said that the "nectar is no longer flowing". Therefore he is giving the bees sugar water, so they can save up their honey stores for winter, especially the smaller hives that didn't collect as much. He had a couple hives that got robbed, too.

See how his yard has grown!

Obi went with us. Doesn't he look adorable? I didn't put on a bee suit, because I wanted to be unencumbered so I could take pictures. Unfortunately, even though I stayed a "safe" distance away, an angry bee was still head butting me. So I hid in the car and tried to take pictures through the window. I didn't get very many good ones. Next time I guess I will dress in the bee suit. ;)

First Mitch and Obi removed the lids off all the boxes. He already had a sugar-water delivery system installed (designed from recycled Powerade bottles).

 Mitch refilled each bottle and replaced it in the hive.

I wish I could have captured a picture of all the dragonflies that were hovering above the bee yard. I counted nearly a dozen. A monarch butterfly fluttered by and a dragonfly dive-bombed it. It stumbled mid-flight, corrected itself, and flew off.

Obi wandered slowly back towards the car and this bee followed him the whole way. He stopped and waited patiently for her to get bored and fly away. She did.

Mitch got Obi back into the car, and we made a "get away" plan before he stopped to check on the hive where the new wild bees are residing. They don't think they successfully got the queen, so this hive may die out, make a new queen, or go join another hive. We are pretty sure there's not enough honey to support the hive all winter long. It was crazy busy full of bees. Boy were they mad when Mitch uncovered it!

After he was done, I drove a few yards away. Mitch walked away, laid down on the grass for a minute or two, then got up and ran down the road after me. Once he was sure the last pursuer had given up, he climbed in the car and we sped away. :) Ok, it wasn't quite so dramatic that I had to speed, but it was pretty exciting.

You know, I'm not sure that I'm all that crazy about working with the bees. I don't even really like honey, but I do have a couple recipes that I like to use it in. The kids are really enjoying going out with Dad, and almost all of them do like to eat honey. I love to see Mitch happy with a hobby. I feel sad when he is sad (when a queen dies, or a hive doesn't do as well as he expected, or when a hive is robbed, etc). Whatever happens next, I am happy that he got to share a bit of it with me. I pray that God will bless him in all the work of his hands, even bee keeping.

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