Beekeeping Fun

Family working together to get everything loaded (except for Peter)

So about a week ago the men in our family headed out to help a friend split his hives. They loaded up some empty boxes and headed out.

Jacob learning to drive a fork lift

This is the second year they have done this and they love it despite the exhausting days!!

Hanging out with a bunch of bees!

They split hives, requeened every one and moved them between bee yards. Exhausting work, but a great time to learn and earn some honeybees!

Beekeeping : Native Bees

(Reprinted from ETBA Newsletter)

Native Bees

by Peter Cole

(Advanced Master Beekeeper & Master Gardener)

While most months I focus on our beloved honey bee, this month I am going to focus several equally important native bees. There might be a variety of reasons why we cannot keep bees in a specific location, however understanding these native bees gives us another option as beekeepers to invite these pollinators into a space.  Bumble Bees, Carpenter bees, and Mason bees are all important to our native habitats.  

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Bumble  Bee

Bumble bees are a large, hairy and social bee and while only nine live in Texas there are over a hundred found all over the U.S. They nest under ground in already empty cavities. 

 

Another native bee is the carpenter bee. This bee is similar to the Bumble bee, except the abdomen does not have any hair on it, it is shiny and yellow. Bumble bees are probably the most like honey bees of all the native bees. They have a hive, with the same castes as honey bees-Queen, Worker, and Drone. While they collect pollen and nectar, and will make and store honey for a dearth. 

 

Carpenter bee
Carpenter Bee

Large Carpenter bees are very similar to bumble bees however, Bumble bees are hairy all over, while carpenter bees have a shiny black abdomen. Then the similarities stop. Carpenter bees are not ground nesting, or social. Instead Carpenter bees burrow into wood, and lay eggs.  Since they burrow into wood they could be considered nuisance bees, however they are just as important as all of the other native bees found in Texas. 

mason bee
Mason Bees

Mason bees are the third and last of the native bees I am going to talk about. Mason bees are solitary, and nest in already existing cavities in wood, trees, or hollow hollow stems. Mason bees are excellent pollinators of fruit trees, collecting pollen and nectar to store for their brood. While they are solitary and won’t nest together, they often congregate meaning they build their nests close. 

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Mason Bee Hive

 

In conclusion, our native bees are important, and many times they get overlooked. There are many things that you can do to help native bees…

 

It’s BEE time

Holy cow, we might just be swimming in bees! 🙂

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We have ratcheted things up a bit around here….

My boys went and worked with a friend to split his 800+ beehives.  In payment we brought home 50+ hives!  Wow!!

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Well more bees means more boxes and hopefully more honey!!

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So I have had some fun painting a few boxes!

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The Lapoynor FCA painted some boxes for us too – and they are adorable!!

But be warned!  If you come over and stand in our bee yard you might get stung!  I did – on the lip!!  That mean little lady came in with her stinger headed toward my lip, no buzz by warning!  Nothing!!  Just a fat lip for now the third day!  Ugh!!

Well, Happy Beekeeping!!

Beekeeping Classes

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As summer is winding down, it is time to start thinking about taking Beekeeping classes starting January and adding bees too your own place!!

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We have thoroughly enjoyed teaching beekeeping classes at our place the past two years!  It is a family affair as our oldest 2 boys Jacob and Peter help teach.

IMG_2497Jacob is an Advanced Master Beekeeper and Peter is an Apprentice Master Beekeeper, while my husband is also an Advanced Master Beekeeper.

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Both boys are East Texas Beekeeper Association Ambassadors as well – they speak all over East Texas about the Honey Bee, so they have a little experience under their belts!

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I try to help out as well, and Jacob, Peter and I are all Master Gardeners in Henderson County.  So somehow all that makes us a little qualified to share about bees and plants that help the bees out!

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We start classes in the classroom with the anatomy of the bee and finish up in the classroom extracting honey in June.

IMG_3100In between we spend a number of classes in the bee yard going into hives, identifying queens and pests.

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Our classes go into a lot of detail about how to manage your own bees, what to look for and how to help keep your hives as strong as possible!

Through our class you can order everything from suit & gloves, to boxes and bees!

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If you have any questions about taking classes with us, please feel free to email us at milkandhoneymeadows303@yahoo.com.

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