Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A New Beekeeping Season!

A new beekeeping season is upon us here in the Clearwater Florida area. The cold has affected us like anyone else and the bees have been quite delayed in their preparation this "Spring". I put Spring in quotes, because the past few months have been bitterly cold, at least bitter as far as I'm concerned. We were able to purchase our nucleus hives (nucs) only one week later than we did last year. So just last weekend, we made the trek to Groveland Florida to pick up our 11 NUCS!

Yes, I can hardly believe we expanded to that degree, but it is certainly needed. Our customers are growing at an astounding rate due to our exacting quality standards in our honey, pollen, beeswax and skin care products. We are so pleased everyone is enjoying the Musashi The Bee products and more importantly, we see many repeat customers each time we are at the market who are passionate about what we do. That positive feedback makes the hot summers in a beesuit and the beestings all worth it!

We only live about 1.5 hours from Groveland, but because you have to pick the bees up in the early morning before they are all flying around, we had to wake up before the crack of dawn last Saturday to leave to get them.

There wasn't a hitch putting them in the back of our pickup truck, and we draped the breathable net over the hives stacked in back. This keeps all but the most dedicated bees from escaping causing havoc during our ride. I always worry about escapees harassing motorcyclists on the way home and sure enough, as we're only five minutes on the road back we come to a stop light where right next to us are 5 Harley riders. As I'm a motorcyclist myself, I'm completely sympathetic to the variety of hazards present on the road. I'm sure none of them considered pulling up next to over a half million bees in the back of a truck was going to be one of their concerns for that ride, but there we were.

No one seemed to be swatting themselves or making any unusual movements as we wait for the light to turn green, so I was relieved. The light turned green and we all pulled forward but I was preoccupied with putting some distance between myself and the bikers who were riding at a very leisurely pace. I was pretty nervous about them getting stung. The very next thing I know, there is a police officer behind me, lights going, clearly I was being pulled over.

As the officer came up to my window, he informed me I was doing 48 in a 35 zone. I began to explain my panic because of all of the bees in the back of the truck and some motorcyclists. At the moment I am trying to explain this the Harley riders roar past and the officer says he couldn't hear a thing I said. I shortened my pleas to just a hand gesture pointing out the buzzing activity out back.

Oddly, the officer began asking poignant questions about the hives. After four or five questions, it was clear he had an interest in beekeeping that went beyond the weird incident of pulling over someone for speeding with 11 beehives in the back of the truck.

I answered his questions as best I could, he only gave me a warning and I gave him my phone number and email to call if he wanted further help in beginning this fascinating hobby/business of beekeeping!

He was a very nice fellow and it sure made our day to not only not get a speeding ticket but to have a fun story to tell in the end. If he's reading this, thanks again for just a warning!

We continued on to Tarpon Springs. This year is our first outyard as we have a friend who was looking for the pollination benefit of the hives and we wanted more room to expand (we have 18 hives total now). Our friend has a couple of acres, which is a huge spread for us city folks, even in Tarpon Lake area which is about 20 minutes north of us. So it's a gorgeous location for the bees, lots of sunshine but a treeline break from strong winds. I had placed two of my original beehives at his location and they were doing swimmingly so we added five more this past Saturday. He has seven very active beehives at this point and we're very anxious to see what the honey tastes like, as he has quite a few exotic plants and fruit tress as that is his hobby. In a few weeks, we should get to see the difference between our backyard honey and this Tarpon Honey. Very exciting stuff!

We then arrived at our home with the rest of the beehives and promptly moved them in and took a few pictures. Yukiko doesn't get into her little bee oufit much as she is busy with the website, artwork, Beeauty Queen (tm) http://www.beeautyqueen.com/  line of skin care products etc. So I have to snap a picture whenever I can of her knee deep in the apiary!

That last picture above is from the last deep hive. I decided to take it and keep it for show purposes at the market. I keep it in the freezer until market days to keep it fresh. People are always fascinated by how delicate and intricate the honeycomb is!

 I am only using mediums now. The deeps seem to do really well with more room for the queen to lay eggs, but like everyone else the deeps are just way to  heavy to deal with regularly, once you've transitioned to mediums. I gave a lot of thought to going with 8 frame mediums this year but stuck with 10 frame medium woodenware because the plastic bottoms from Brushy Mountain http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/ are just so much easier to deal with. Plus I don't have to paint them as they are plastic.

I would never go for plastic hive bodies, but these bottom boards seem a much more sensible solution than wood due to the wear and tear wooden screened bottom boards receive!

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