On a chance walkabout in the orchard between torrential rain showers this afternoon, we discovered a swarm of bees in the plum tree: an extraordinary sight to behold. Our original bees had come under attack from robber bees three weeks agoand have been having a hard time in the last few weeks, so this swarm could have been our own hive splitting in half and evacuating with a new queen. The original hive is now calm and not being robbed. (We’ll take a look in there tomorrow.)
The swarm on the plum branch seemed like a casual gift, almost accidental – like Mother Nature threw us a bone – to make up for the fact that our original hive was robbed. It was nice to be with bees that were happy. The swarm was docile, as all bees without a home are, as they have nothing to protect. We had to act quickly because more rain was forecast. Continue reading →
An experienced, local beekeeper recommended that, because we have a developing, young hive, we should smear a small dollop of high-quality, raw honey on the landing pad for the bees to eat. This turned out to be another mistake and invited an attempted invasion by a group of opportunistic bees that were twice the size, just proving that beekeeping is such a personal endeavor subject to just about any possible variable. The survival of each hive is unique depending on location, weather, surrounding vegetation or position and each beekeeper should necessarily develop their own style.
The next mistake we made was at the time of the attempted robbery in trying to adjust the entrance reducer while they were defending the hive from the attack to prevent any more robbing bees from entering, but we just got attacked ourselves.
Hive robbing is a common problem during drought or hot conditions. A weak or young hive is especially vulnerable to attack when it hasn’t rained for a while, flowers are wilting or there’s little to no pollen around during that time between spring’s early blossoms like apple and the summer flowers like milkweed that’s just coming up now.
Our bees successfully fought off their attackers last week, but the bandits have returned today and there’s chaos at the front of the hive this afternoon. It makes for very angry bees and we’ve had a couple of bee stings today. We’ve left them alone to defend themselves and hoping for the best. To defend the hive they are darting around the front of the hive like bullets and “bearding” around the hive entrance. Beekeeping is not easy.
Saturday August 27th starting at 10am: Great Catskill Mountain BBQ Fest in Fleischmanns
A day-long Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned BBQ competition and festival for professional and amateur pitmasters. It promises to be an “exciting day of competition, fun, food, music, vendors galore and all things barbecue in Fleischmanns Park in Fleischmanns, NY”. Proceeds will benefit the Fleischmanns Community Pool Project. More details here.
Saturday August 27th 1.30pm to 4.30pm: Bees, Honey & You in Margaretville
Will “The Bee Man” will discuss the inside & outside workings of honey bee hives. Participants will gain a better understanding of the crucial relationship between human beings, nature and our environment. Learn why bees are vital beyond the production of honey. The program will end with a Q&A period and a jar of honey. Blue Deer Center, 1153 County Highway 6, Margaretville, NY 12455. More details here.
Upstate Dispatch now has a YouTube Channel for all our video content. Please take a look around. We are in the midst of uploading video taken at the tops of all the Catskills mountains, doing farm tours and reporting on food and the arts in our region. Above is our 20-minute short of the day we spent with Chase Kruppo while he inspected his beehives and prepared them for winter. Chasing Honey Farm is a pesticide free apiary in Fleischmanns in its first year of business. He installed his bees in May of this year and after the summer, he harvested 147.625lbs pounds of raw honey comb plus 10lbs of liquid honey for his CSA members.