spring fever

as of late i have not been making any artwork, that being the reason i haven’t posted with any regularity.  i have come to realize that there will be several months in my year that i will mainly focus on outdoor fun!  i have become busy with bees and gardens and fermenting foods and culturing dairy.  i have to force myself to stay inside and work on projects that are past due.  last friday gwen and i made five splits out of our twenty surviving hives.  they have all been very robust and we are trying to reduce our chances of swarming.  caring for the bees is an amazingly humbling experience for me.  i have been at it for about 4 years now and am still very much a beginner.  every time i figure something out i open a hive and see something that makes me go, “well, that’s interesting”.  i like to be knowledgeable about subjects i am interested in, and like most humans i like being good at things.  but i can’t say i am good at beekeeping because there is so much i don’t know. for example making splits is a relatively new phenomena to me.  i hope they survive and flourish, but it is all up to chance.

bees on a frame

what we do to make a split is take 2 frames of brood (larvae that is gestating) and one frame of fresh eggs (they haven’t reached the larval stage) and 2 frames of honey and pollen.  we put them in a small nuc box (a bee box that only fits 5 frames) and walk away for 4 weeks.  there are nurse bees on the brood frames and when they sense that there is no queen they will create one out of one or more of the fresh eggs.  after the queen has hatched she will go on a mating flight and come back and start laying.  this will put them behind on production by about a month, but i prefer this method to buying a mated queens.  firstly mated queens are expensive and their chance of failure is too high for my tastes.  but by using the split and walk away method we are leaving a lot to chance.  but that is half the fun and enchantment of beekeeping.  they are such organized and fascinating creatures.

frame loaded with pollen

the picture above is a frame loaded with pollen.  they forage from multiple sources and that is why the pollen is multicolored.  the frame reminds me of playing with light brights when i was a kid.  pollen is the main source of protein for the bees and larvae, and they mix it with honey to create bee bread.  and this is a frame packed with it!!!

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