It is difficult to believe that I discovered the first dandelion of the season yesterday…one month earlier than last year! With temperatures between 50-60 degrees F, here in West Michigan, I have been able to thoroughly inspect all of my hives. There is nothing more joyful than overwintering 100% of my colonies, once again. I spent years researching honey bees and beekeeping before I ever purchased my first package of bees. I was determined to not be the reason my bees died. Successful beekeeping is time consuming, challenging and expensive, yet I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Spring not only brings sunshine and blooms, but more bees. As numbers build, I am able to split colonies and creature new ones. My apiary expansion is moving to the back of our property this season. With mature trees that surround a wildflower meadow, this space has been perfectly named the “Woodland Expansion”. I am so excited to fill these happy hives with buzzing little ladies!
And of course, life would never be the same without matching nucs for queen rearing!
Many ask, “How many colonies would you ultimately like to have?”
My response is always the same… “As many as I can care for appropriately. ”
There is a huge misconception that one can purchase a hive, fill it with bees and it will effortlessly make loads of magical honey. This is so not the case. In this situation, the only thing that will happen is a beautiful colony of bees will perish unnecessarily, due to lack of human knowledge. I care for my sweet bees just like I care for my furry and feathered critters on our farm. For example, making sure animals are given the appropriate feed is a necessity. For honey bees, this means planting a wide variety of bee friendly plants that provide chemical free pollen and nectar. This also means leaving 80lbs of honey in each hive to overwinter. Bees should never die due to starvation.
I choose to grow my apiary slowly. If I add new colonies, I am committed to add additional gardens and meadows to not only sustain my honey bees, but the local pollinators. Our family starts approximately 1000 seedling each year for our bees and local pollinators. We also directly sow hundreds of pounds of pollinator friendly seed on our property. We would never want the local pollinators to have to compete for resources with our honey bees.
For me, being a responsible beekeeper means providing responsibly for my bees. I could never expect my horse to flourish, let alone survive, if I only checked on her a few times each year. The same approach must be embraced with honey bees. As many individuals begin their beekeeping journey this spring, I beg you to research, research, research! Ideally, do the research BEFORE purchasing bees. Finding a local mentor or participating in an online beekeeping class is also extremely helpful. Please don’t be the reason that these amazing creatures die unnecessarily…
Here’s to another beautiful season filled with bees and blooms. Remember our motto, “Plant a Flower, Save a Bee!”
Bee well everyone! Roda