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Replacing the beehives

By Brett Kent / For the Enterprise

Hello everyone, welcome back to the B­­­eehive. Ok, I was going to start out by talking about the weather this spring, but what could I say that hasn’t been said already. So moving right along. Global what? Ok, Ok.

A lot has happened since I last wrote. I traveled up to Clearbrook and purchased a whole pickup load of bees. No, I mean it. It was all my pickup could hold. Look at the picture. The bee boxes in the picture are all 4-frame nuc boxes. Nuc stands for nucleus hive, which in this case is a 4-frame box that holds about eight thousands bees, a queen, and four frames of brood.

This is the way to buy starter hives. Nucs are probably about 3 to 4 weeks ahead of the other option of buying package bees. When I say this, I mean that the package bees have to be installed in a hive box. Then the worker bees have to release the queen bee out of the queen cage, which takes about 3 to 5 days.

Then it takes the queen another 3 to 5 days to start laying eggs. Then, 21 days after she starts laying, you have your first new bees in your new hive. Conversely, the day you get your nucs, the queen is already laying eggs and you are getting new bees hatching every day. So, if the cost is virtually the same, and you have both options, I would recommend the nuc option. That sounds terrible.

Ok, I arrived home with a pickup load of nucs. I spread them out along my driveway in the dark. The following day, I started installing the nucs into my hive boxes. By this, I mean that I transferred the 4 frames into my hive boxes.

Then I knock the rest of the bees out of the nuc box and into my hive box. The following day I feed each hive 1 gallon of sugar water. This is where we treat the bees for foul brood, and noseima. Two things that can ruin a bee’s day.

So, I have had the bees for approximately 3 weeks. In that time, the amount of bees in the hive have doubled. Remember, the queen lays about 2000 eggs a day. So, after 21 days, you are getting 2000 new bees a day in the hive. Keep in mind, that you are losing lots of bees every day also, as bees only live about 6 weeks in the summer time.

I have added another deep box and the first honey supers. So, most of my hives are three boxes high right now.

The dandelion crop this year is fantastic. The bees are really taking advantage of the great bloom. I have moved all my hives to their summer locations. I have nine different bee yards this year. I hope to have several different blends of honey, as each location gives us a different flavor.

Also, I met with a very nice family, Wayne and Heidi Haverinen. They live on a farm in the Menahga area. Wayne and Heidi asked that I put some bees on their farm this year, as they are planting 50 acres of buckwheat. So you buckwheat honey connoisseurs, get ready, it’s going to be awesome.

I could talk forever. I promise to write more often. I will take lots of pictures and share them with you folks. Come see us at the Farmers Market on Main Street. Brenda and I are the new market managers. Come help us make it a success.

Lastly, on a more serious note, I wanted to let you folks know that my beekeeping buddy, from Clearbrook, Jerrel Johnson, passed away about a month ago. I only knew Jerrel for about two years, but I feel like I have known him my whole life. He and I share a love for the outdoors, like no other. When I introduced Brenda to Jerrel, it took her about 10 minutes to tell him that he and I could have been brothers.

We have the same interests, from family, to beekeeping, woodworking, etc. Minnesota has lost a world-class beekeeper, and we all have lost a dear friend.