A new series of posts for new beekeepers
This is the first in a series of posts designed to assist new beekeepers who are installing package bees this year. Thanks to Jim Coss of The Honey & Bee Connection, who provided the package bees and hives for this project, on April 8th I installed two packages of bees in new hives in my home apiary. Over the course of the 2012 beekeeping season, I will maintain and care for these hives in the same way as new beekeepers throughout the United States are doing. I will report on their progress at each step along the way – through the best of times and the worst of times. The posts will be accompanied by photographs to allow new beekeepers to compare the progress of their hives with mine. One of the difficulties for beginners is knowing whether or not their hives are developing normally, since they don’t yet have a sense of what normal is. This series is designed to help them with that question. When you read the next post, you will learn about the problem I faced on the first day, and how I handled it.
In addition to following the two hives begun from package bees, I will chart the progress of two nucs which I will be starting this weekend. That series of posts, to be called “A Tale of two nucs: Following the progress of two new nucleus hives”, is intended to assist more advanced beekeepers who are starting nucs for the first time. (For readers who do not know what a nuc is, see the first post in the series which should be up in a couple of days.) That series will also be of value to beginners who are buying nucs for their first hives. While I have always encouraged beginning beekeepers to start with purchased nucs, it’s a situation of buyer beware. Nucs are existing hives, albeit small and new. Unfortunately, I have known beginners who purchased nucs of poor quality and value which later became problem hives. By following this series, beekeepers will have an opportunity to see what a good quality nuc should look like and the steps needed to create one, and to follow its progress as it develops into a full sized, healthy hive.
I won’t be neglecting more experienced beekeepers this year. In addition to these two series for newer beekeepers, I will continue to post about news, issues, and events that will be of general interest. Here in Kentucky and elsewhere (I was in Tennessee this week), this is looking like an interesting and, I hope, a profitable year for beekeepers. My hives are loaded with all the drawn supers that I stored last fall, and I wish I had more. It seems as though everything is blooming at once this spring. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the season progresses.