Inside our (now gone) backyard bee hive
Friday, 12 February 2010
As mentioned, our backyard bees have gone. In my case, it was impossible to have backyard bees and happy neighbours. The hive will eventually go back to my dads place, and is currently holidaying at my uncles, as their isn’t enough pollen near Dad’s block until spring, when the Canola flowers. My uncle lives adjacent to a National Park which environmentally, is not an ideal place to keep bees. I prefer honeybees be kept in urban or agricultural landscapes given their potential threat to native flora and fauna.
I’ll visit my Dad when the honey is ready to harvest and will be involved in the whole process of harvesting and extraction. It’s not the same as having them in my backyard – but at least I’ll still learn about beekeeping so that I’ll be ready for the day I can have backyard bees again.
I’m sad…and I’m extremely annoyed…but I won’t dwell on these feelings in this post. Trust me, I have plenty to say about how detached we are from nature and our food production and I’ll get around to sharing these feelings. It’s ridiculous how much hysteria and fear these small harmless useful creatures can create??!!! I’m even more passionate now about urban nature.
But onto the fun and positive…Opening the hive was an experience. I couldn’t believe the incredibly loud buzz from the hive when it was opened. The bees showed no sign of aggression.
First we went off on a treasure hunt in search of some Casuarina leaves to use in the smoker.
Back with the hive…we started a fire with newspaper in the smoker and added the Casuarina leaves.
Then there was smoke, and lots of it. Less than a minute later our neighbour was peering over our fence.
Our backyard is only 10 metres wide – so the smoke was very noticeable. I don’t think our neighbours would have even discovered we had bees if it wasn’t for the smoke. Perhaps there are other ways of settling bees before opening a hive? Or perhaps its best to wait until your neighbours are out if you want to avoid them knowing about your bees? I’d love to hear from others with backyard bees. How do your neighbours react? Do they know you have bees? If not, how do you hide them?
We only checked the frames in the top hive given that we were rather flustered by the encounter with the neighbour.
We were surprised by the presence of a few queen bee cells. Each hive has only one queen bee, and the creation of a new queen indicates the colony is getting ready to swarm (the old queen bee will leave the hive, leaving the new queen with the hive) or that a new queen is needed because the current queen is unwell or dead.
We assumed the queen bee was in the bottom hive as she would have been moving away from the smoke and put in a queen excluder to prevent her leaving the hive and to prevent her laying brood in the top hive (I know there is probably appropriate terminology that I’m not using for top and bottom hive – but please excuse my newness to beekeeping).
My Dad probably should have been wearing bee safety gear, but I imagine many beekeepers become a little lax over time once they realise how rarely bees are aggressive. I was comfortable being at the hive without safety gear. That said – it would have been wiser for us to wear protective gear just in case. I also probably should have set a better example for Little Eco by wearing the gear. Speaking of Little Eco – she comfortably used to walk up to the hive to watch the bees – A huge contrast to the fear seen in our neighbours! Again – highlighting the importance of ‘knowing nature’. I love that Little Eco respects bees and understands that they make our honey.
And the best bit…you can see some capped honey. I wonder what it is going to taste like? It will be an interesting batch of honey – the taste of rural, urban and bushland Australia – all mixed in together by some cute little critters.