Beekeeping experience so far: I have gotten stung on my face, wrist, finger, shins, and knee. Mike and I had to move one hive only about 20 feet to an area a little easier on my back. We paid for it dearly. Mike got chased 1/4 mile and stung twice. I read somewhere that a hive for every 10 acres is sufficient. The land is 80 acres so that would mean I could definitely double up but its always safer to start small. And I’m pretty sure there are wild hives on the land. Water was also a challenge. Supposedly there is some natural streams and ponds close to the property as well. Its on the map but not sure if its always there. For now I bring water in a pail. For sounding so simple it always ends end up taking more effort and time than I planned. One day couldn’t find a pail that didn’t have some part of it broken or lizard chilling inside. Another obstacle is finding objects to place inside as a landing area for the bees. Lol, its like a perfect example of how things end up more difficult than expected. Learning pains is what most of it is.
We have two hives in Ranchita and two in Ramona. Or original plan was to just stick with Ranchita hive but it became a bit unpredictable mostly due to my schedule. And I wanted a source of comparison, like is it me or the location kind of thing. Turned out to be a great plan. Required more investment than we originally planned but with nature its always good to have a back up. Each location has a strong hive and a weak hive. In Ranchita I expanded their living space too soon and we experienced a cold snap. So alot of baby bees froze in their cells, I was very heart broken over it. I saw it as my fault. The point of expanding is to prevent the hive from swarming and leaving the hive. I couldn’t have predicted the weather but still……. And I had a bit of a scare too because being new to this, I called seasoned beekeeper about what could have been the possible cause. Disease was possible, so I had to do this stick test in which you find a dead larvae, use a tooth pick to puncture and swirl around then pull out. If the consistency is that of slime/booger then there is disease. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, it was new beekeeper error.
Less then a week later my Ramona hive give me a scare. When I inspect my hive I look for two things. Do the bees look healthly? Is the queen laying eggs? First look around everything looked amazing, they had tons of honey stocked up. But then after a few frames I realized something isn’t right. Where are the eggs or larvae…….where is the queen?!! I couldn’t see any eggs, then I tried looking for the queen. Nothing. So I freaked out and contacted my bee supplier, he tried to calm me down, told me to give it a few days then go back and look again. I did and nothing changed so I had to order a new queen. Anything could have happened to the queen including me killing her by accident. I try to be very careful when moving these boxes around to inspect but shit happens.
So we had it all planned and my supplier came with a new queen. Open up the box to make sure a worker bee hasn’t tried to filling in due to the absence of a queen. This would cause major problems if we brought in a queen with a egg laying worker there. But by two frames we found eggs properly laid in the cells. This means its an actual queen there. So then we searched for the queen and with two pairs of eyes we were able to find her sneaky ass. Now the question I had was why did she stop laying eggs. A queen bee can lay close to 2000 a day. And that’s continuous for over 2 years, so what was her problem. Turns out this happens sometimes………queen took a vacation on me.
Following these events it appears the weakened Ramona hive is recovering. The weakened Ranchita hive is still not there yet. I might have to use the strong hive to build them up. But the honey production on both strong hives is pretty amazing. Its extremely difficult for me to lift one box because of the weight (can reach 40lbs). Since its just me by myself I thought it would be best to just start extracting honey frame by frame every time I visit. This past week I collected the Ranchita honey. Boy was I blown away! In the beginning of the year the honey looked almost clear, I honesty don’t know what plant was contributing to such a light honey. But I’m not complaining. Jarred a few samples…..listen, you can smell the flowers. Delicate and somehow rich and so fragrant. We are extremely proud of it especially after all the stings I’ve received :D. Looking forward to Ramona honey.