The practical experience of the beekeeper - from buying bees to first honey
In my past articles, I talked about the rights and obligations of a beekeeper and a bee-builder (read the material How I became a beekeeper), and also dwelt in detail on what you need to buy for the first apiary. And so, when the theory has been studied, and everything necessary for arranging an apiary has been acquired, the time comes to start practicing beekeeping. How I bought my first bees and shook my first honey, I will tell in this article.
As I was looking for my first bees
In advance, in February, she began to look for someone who would sell me bee families. There are darkness on the Internet - all breeds and lines, with passports and passports. Prices steadily revolve around 4000 rubles per package (three frames with bees and a uterus, one feeding frame). Purebreds, obviously, are more expensive, domestic ones are cheaper. I wanted the locals. So that they knew the situation, they understood the local botany, they were adapted to the climate. And calm.
The area is honey-bearing, ecologically clean, apiaries (as a rule, apiaries) - at every step, including a neighbor across the road. But you can’t take it from him - the bees can fly back if they don’t like it. All sources unanimously advise better not to risk it and buy bees no closer than 5 km. I was safe and booked 20 km from us. Who knows these bees? Maybe they like apiary megacities with summer outings, and we like them in the village for permanent residence.
We agreed on the second decade of April - to come, choose, pick up. The karnik breed is calm, working, with prolific uterus.
Bees are usually sold at the end of April-May, depending on the region: the gardens bloom, the bees are actively working, the uterus lays eggs. That is, this is exactly the time when you can evaluate the strength of families and prospects. It is clear that a beginner, like me, is unlikely to be able to see the essentials. But here we have to rely on the integrity of the seller.
Creating amenities for bees on the site
Finally, they brought us hives. Now her husband’s work has begun: to fasten handles, latches for letlets, to paint hives outside. He loves painting as a process, he approaches it thoroughly. Apparently, there is some unrealized artistic vein in it.
As a result, one hive turned out to be tender chicken shades, the other - the color of spring grass. Painted with acrylic paints, they are almost odorless. Coloring only outside, inside remains an amazing and healthy resinous smell.
The most crucial moment is choosing a place for hives. It is necessary for the bees to be comfortable - warm, a minimum of wind, a morning sun, to fly out comfortably and you can see everything from the entrance without a periscope. At the same time, in order to ensure elementary safety for home and coming people, that is, our movements should not fall into the flight zone of bees.
We found such a place near the fence, under an adult plum. They decided to put the hives near for ease of maintenance. But the bees will not confuse their houses and will not drag honey into a strange family.
To prevent the hives from overgrown with grass, black dense covering material was laid under them on the ground, and stones were placed on top. Since it is possible to mow around the hives with a trimmer, but climbing grass under them is a form of masochism, to which I have no tendency.
We made holes in the covering material and drove in the blocks pointed at the bottom so that the hive slope was slightly forward - so that water would not flow from the rain, and it would be easier to remove the bees. When sloping to the right or left, the honeycombs in the framework of the bee are unevenly rebuilt. This is not good for both bees and beekeepers.
Before buying bees in the hives, I threw mint and lemon balm. Not in order for the bees to breathe well there, but in order to prevent the settlement of comfortable houses with all kinds of insect bums.
April began, plums and cherries bloomed. There are no bees. A peach has blossomed; alien bees collect nectar and pollen on it! Settled here, and how then to drive them out? By mid-April, cherries, plums, cherries faded, pollinated by other people's bees (as the crop later showed - poor quality). The peach has blossomed - there are no bees yet! Hives stand lonely surrounded by flowering trees.
Finally, the contract date has arrived. Having loaded the boxes in the car, I went to the apiary. There is beauty! Multi-colored beehives stand in even rows, the buzz is worth it! The bees work tirelessly. Without superiors, logistics and management. Our walk with the owner between the rows does not bother them at all. Moreover, if the owner was in a suit and a net, then I - in jeans, a jacket and a net. Without gloves, both. With a smoker, of course, but, rather, for the order - a little smoke in the open hive.
They examined several families, chose the ones they liked (the owner chose, I was rather weak in this matter, to put it mildly). Arranged 4 frames with bees and a uterus in my boxes, packed. Letters were closed, the covers were nailed down. The bees transferred this procedure quite calmly, as if moving every day.
She put the boxes in the shade for 3 hours at home - let them leave a little after shaking the road. Then she rearranged the boxes on the hives and opened the doors on the boxes - so that they would fly around, look around, and orient. And already in the evening, dressed in a beekeeping suit, she rearranged the frames with bees in the hives so that they could spend the night in a new housing.
She added two frames of sushi (empty rebuilt honeycombs - they gave me a gift in the apiary) so that there was a place for planting with a uterus, and a frame of waxes so that they pulled it (made full-fledged honeycombs) with a hint of honey.
She covered everything with canvas and pillows, since for the growth of the brood it is necessary about + 37 ° С. Letki (both upper and lower) opened. Then let them figure out in which place the front door will be, and in which - black, to take out the garbage.
The process has begun!
Well, then workdays began, the bees quickly sorted out where to take what and where to drag.
Starting the next morning, they started to work, collecting pollen and nectar. In front of the house, a willow tree just blossomed in the garden, apple trees in the garden, along the river and on a hill behind the house there is a Tatar maple, in general, there is where to turn around. Apart from any dandelions.
The bees returned to the hives laden to the eyeballs and with a multi-colored trim (pollen on the hind legs). Every week I added 2 frames of wax to them until the 16-frame hives were filled. It would be better to add sushi, but I had nowhere to take it, so the bees had to rebuild the honeycombs in parallel with growing the young generation, harvesting honey and pork.
When it got hot outside, the bees gnawed lovingly sewn pillows, hinting to an inexperienced beekeeper that it was time to remove them. Pillows and partitions removed, leaving only a canvas.
During active honey gathering it is very easy to work with bees - they are so busy that the beekeeper’s manipulations hardly distract them. I worked with open beehives without gloves, a smoker stood nearby and smoked somewhere to the side for order. The bees were busy with their own affairs, I - with their own. Such is the labor idyll.
2 months after the acquisition of bees, we, reassured by their active work, bought for 7 thousand rubles. honey separator for 2 frames and in June pumped out the first honey.
Since we need honey exclusively for our own consumption, to begin with, I took two frames from each hive, in which there was only honey (1/3 sealed) and there was no brood.
Pumping honey has its own rules. In the hive, the temperature for growing brood is maintained at about 26-36 degrees, honey in the cells is relatively liquid and it is advisable to pump it out immediately after removing the frames, so it goes better.
The process itself is as follows: cut the honeycomb from the honeycombs (caps on the honeycombs) on both sides of the frame and place two frames in the honey separator.
We twist the handle of the honey extractor, and centrifugal force spreads our honey along the walls of the unit. It is necessary to twist quickly, but without truthfulness, otherwise the honeycomb will break and the bees need extra repair work. When there is almost no honey frame on one side, the frames must be turned over and the procedure repeated for the other side. Then the honey flows down, open the faucet and filter the honey through a strainer in a jar.
Within the frames, a little honey still remains around the edges, you don’t need to be greedy and squeeze the last drops, it’s better to put the frames back in the hive, the bees will clean everything, drag honey into other frames.
That's the kind of honey they brought us in early summer. In the photo, it turned out to be dark, in fact, the color is dark amber. Local beekeepers say - from black maple (Tatar maple, there are a lot of it on the river) and mountain herbs. Tasty, fragrant. Own.