Have you ever wondered what bees do? We’ve put together a sneak peek into our hives throughout the year!
As the season starts to change, it’s time to take an initial look at the hives to see how they fared over the winter. Sometimes if we get a chinook and there’s a hive that needs checked, we’ll sneak an early peek!
The weather is getting warmer and the bees more active, so it’s important to make sure they have enough food to carry them through until they have a natural food source. We feed the bees sugar water and pollen to get them off to a great start!
One way to start a new beehive is to get a package of bees. The bees come in a screened box with a queen, so they are ready to go into a hive. Each box contains 2-3 pounds of bees.
Packages usually come in at the end of April and are installed as soon as possible.
As summer progresses, the population in the hive grows.
At this time, we keep an eye out for swarms and split hives (two more ways to start a new hive!). To split a hive, we put a few frames of eggs and brood from the main hive into another box. The bees will hopefully raise a new queen at which time we put them into a new hive.
Sometimes, the bees get too crowded in their hive. This triggers a swarm where the queen takes 1/3-2/3 of the bees out of the hive to find a new home. The bees left behind will raise a new queen and continue on their way.
Although swarms may look scary, the bees are busy finding a new home and tend to be quite gentle!
Show us the honey! This time of year we have the big honey flow. It’s also time to extract the honey. We use the Flow Hive to make extraction super easy! Storing an extractor for use once a year wasn’t feasible for us, so the Flow Hive has worked great!
First drops of honey from our very first Flow Hive extraction!
Busy day extracting!
We also collect pollen around this time of year. Pollen is a source of protein for the bees and is very important for raising new bees. Here’s some of the hive activity on our pollen trap:
And a view of a pollen harvest:
The last of the flowers are finishing and the weather is getting cooler. This month, we do our final extraction and begin winter preparations. With the decline in flowers, we supplement the bees with sugar water as we did in the spring. It’s extremely important to have strong hives with plenty of stores to get through the long winter months!
October/November to February/March
The hives are all tucked in for the winter and it’s time for a break! Over the winter, we prepare equipment and get ready for a new season of beekeeping.
What a year!
Every year is a new adventure and the bees have so much to teach us!
- Alberta houses 14% of Canada’s beekeepers
- Alberta has 41% of Canada’s colonies
- Alberta accounts for 41% of Canada’s honey production (Saskatchewan is next up with 25% and Manitoba follows with 16%)
- Albertan honey makes up 46% of Canada’s honey exports, which is the most of all the provinces (Manitoba makes up 24% and Saskatchewan makes up 16%)
Facts are from 2016 courtesy Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Click here to get even more interesting statistics.
Are you interested in supporting the bees in your yard? Check out our blog post on supporting native pollinators. The post includes great resources on providing a welcoming environment, understanding the bees, and getting more hands on with a bee house.
If you’re interested in having a hive in your yard, let us know by filling out this form. When we are expanding, you may get an email from us!