Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Spring Update 2022

 DANDELIONS ARE OUT!  That means that SPRING is officially here (as far as the bees are concerned) and it's time for an update on what we've been up to...
First of all -- A reminder that the absolute BEST way to keep up with us is our Twitter page: https://twitter.com/DandelionApiary

You can often get more "artsy" pictures from our Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dandelionapiary/) if you're into that aesthetic more-- but Twitter's thread function provides easier updates with explanations and multiple pictures.

These blog pages are quite a bit more work to post and pretty much require a desktop computer, so punching things out on Twitter is always going to be a faster and more generously up-to-date way to chitchat about bees. Plus you can share, comment, ask questions, etc. more easily there. 

We are starting this season with 5 strong hives -- everyone made it through winter and populations are starting to ramp up FAST. Our three main honey-producing hives are augmented again by a single-deep swarm/split, so we have four hives with honey supers currently on them. We are converting to single-deep for all the hives (hopefully) and have two hives still running two-deep brood chambers at the moment. If all goes well, we plan to split them this week and that'll get all the main hives into single-deep brood boxes going forward. The fifth hive is a 6-over-6 Styrofoam nuc that serves as our primary backup colony and it is not honey producing (for us). This is a current look at our yard:

 As I wrote in my prior post (a year ago!  I'm sorry....), this is a critical time of year where the entire population of the hive has to "flip" from winter bees to fresh young recruits. We believe we have successfully done this, based on our hive inspections last week. We had eyes on 4 of the 5 queens and there is a lot of new bees and soon-to-be-bees in various stages. 

The next challenge will be swarm management -- which is especially important this year as our kids' are both graduating (one from high school; the other from college and moving out to a new job!) and we can't be digging through the hives every 5 days this season.

For the honey lovers (and customers!) we -- like most beekeepers in the Pittsburgh region -- did not have an autumn harvest. Rain came so often last fall that bees were unable to gather nectar in any significant quantity. It takes the flowers about 3 days to recover their nectar supply every time it rains, so when it rains every few days.... no nectar, no honey. 

We managed to get a little for ourselves, but again, because of the rain it was hard for the bees to dry it out properly and so it was too "wet" to be shelf-stable and sold. 

Which bummed us out for another reason -- we have a NEW SHINY honey extractor that didn't hardly get a chance to be warmed up!  Sooo.... here's hoping the next harvest in July gives it a good workout.

IN THE MEANTIME, we do have spring honey for sale and will be at North Hills Middle School this Saturday. Come say hi and berate me for being such an inconsistent blogger! No, don't.  But DO come buy some honey. I don't need to load it all back in the car again. 

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