Our nuks came today and we are starting new beehives for the summer. Last summer was our first time beekeeping and we learned a ton thanks to a few good books and a great neighbor who is a third generation beekeeper. You can read about our experience last year on our other blog.
Benefits of Beehives
The benefits of having bee hives was amazing. Our garden produced more food, we had very few wasps (which are the ones that actually bother people – I’d take 1000 of our passive honey bees in place of a single wasp), and of course the honey. Beekeeping was a kid favorite too. They loved to go look into the hives each week and see what was going on. It turned out to be a very fun hobby and it was a good family activity that everyone could participate in, and ultimately eat and enjoy the local honey.
Some people claim several benefits of local honey from cough suppressants to allergy relief. You can read more about it from LiveStrong.com or WebMD. I don’t know what to believe, but I do know it is fantastic and I feel good because I cared for the bees that made it. I can’t find any good resources on the relationship with bees and keeping wasps away, but our experience was that it really helped. We’ll let you know if we see the same thing this year.
Setting Up New Beehives
What exactly did we just do? We ordered Nuk’s from Texas. These are basically four frames with a queen and a few hundred workers. Here’s what they look like:
Inside the cardboard boxes are four frames of bees and a feeder dish. You can see the feeder dish on the left and the four frames on the right.
Before we actually moved the bees, we took a look at the bottom of our old hives. It is important to clean up the racks and the super that holds them. We removed any extra comb on top and any evidence of mice or other creatures that may have moved in after our bees died. Then remove four of the frames to make room for the new ones from the nuk. This picture is what our bottom super looked like before we cleaned it up.
As we moved each frame from the nuk to their new home, we look for the queen and inspect the cells that are already capped to see where the colony is at. Our frames had some pollen cells, a few queen cells that we had to destroy, and then a lot of new brood which is what we wanted to see.
After we were satisfied that both colonies had a queen and were healthy, we shook out all the bees we could from the cardboard and set out some simple sugar (50% water 50% sugar) for them to eat as they acclimated to their new home.
Starting Your Own Beehive
If you live in Minnesota, you can order your bees and equipment through Natures Nectar. They are a great local resource based in Stillwater. Otherwise, check out amazon for good prices on just about every piece of equipment you can ask for.