11 Jul Our New Beehives!
ifarm’s two beehives are happily buzzing away. This is the best time of year for the honeybees, when different flowers are in full bloom and they have lots of pollen collection to keep them busy! These bees are one more link in ifarm’s permaculture chain: They nourish our flowers, provide honey, and are endlessly fascinating to watch! To learn more about using permaculture at ifarm and your own home, explore one of our weekly permaculture workshops.
The bees came as “packages” of 5,000 bees and an unrelated Queen from Gold Star Honeybees in Waterville, ME. Their hives are all raised without any chemicals and are suited to four season climates. Our bees are mutt Apis mellifera, a mix of bee lines from Europe that includes Italy, Russia, Germany and France. We hope those Russian genes will give them a good boost during our New England winter!
If our hives continue to thrive we may have 20,000 to 40,000 bees by the beginning of winter for each hive. We started them with some sugar water for the first month while they established their food sources, and then took it away when they developed a “flow” of bees going in and out of the hive. The flow established itself very quickly; it certainly doesn’t hurt them to have our bursting flower garden on their front step!
There are many challenges arrayed against a starting hive. We hope the local flowers will provide enough nectar to make honey for the winter. We will not be using chemicals on our bees. Our local beekeeping teacher Anita Deeley has counseled us to use natural treatments and accept losses in the face of disease or pests. That way the bees can learn to deal with these issues and pass on their strong genes to other hives.
This first year, our goal is simply to allow the hives to establish themselves. As the bees settle in, the permaculture circle tightens between our gardens and orchard trees, bees, chickens, and sheep!