Monday, 20 January 2014

Preparing for Bees

Oh my goodness, my mind is BUZZING following a 16 hour Level One weekend beekeeping course. The pun was very much intentional (sorry, I couldn't help myself!).   

Eliese Watson of Apiaries and Bees for Communitites (in Calgary) came up to teach us 19 Edmontonians how to prepare for and keep bees in both urban and rural settings.  AWESOME learning is all I have to say.  Eliese knows her stuff (and then some) and as the founder of A.B.C, she works TIRELESSLY to bring bees, people and communities together.    

We learned all about the features of Top Bar and Langstroth hives as well as PLENTY of information about bees and bee behaviour.  Bee colonies are simply amazing - they are one of just a few species that live as a super organism rather than as individuals.  Fascinating stuff!

Eliese has designed a lid for a Top Bar hive to facilitate super-ing.  It works very well and allows for stacking Top Bar Hives.  The plastic grill is a queen excluder.  

Below, you'll see an open Langstroth Hive.

and here it is with a super on it and a queen excluder.  

I'm so excited to get bees, I can hardly stand it (although I'm truthfully more than a little nervous about making mistakes and killing my bees!).   I committed in spite of my fear and bought plans for making Top Bar hives.   Hubby and I are hoping to get cracking on them pretty soon.  We have lots of scrap plywood to build them out of so the cost should be minimal.  Just time, really...

Can you see that strange looking tool on the plans?  That's a hive tool for working a Top Bar Hive.  Eliese had them made up through a friend and she's really happy with the design.

Isn't it bee-utiful?  You use it by sliding the L-shaped end down the inside wall of the hive to separate any wax that's adhering to the side wall (sometimes the bees will attach wax right to the inside wall of the hive).

I've got lots of reading to do to prepare for the season in addition to making the hives.  Wish me luck!


  1. Oh wonderful! So excited for you :)

  2. Ooh, Sherri! You lucky duck, the course sounds fantastic! Fresh honey from your own backyard..I can hardly wait for you!

    1. I'm most excited about the honey, to be honest. Biodiversity and pollination enhancement are both awesome benefits, but MAN, the HONEY!!!!! That's what I'm REALLY excited about! :)

  3. Much luck! This looks like an awesome adventure.

  4. Good Luck with your bees. They are addictive.
    We've had bees for 40 years now and are still learning!

    1. Wow! 40 years is fantastic! Any tips???

      My teacher (frequently) said "Bees are smart, we are not". LOL!

    2. The best tip I can give to a new beekeeper is to find an experienced bee keeper who lives close and ask him/her if they will mentor you for at least your first year. Whoever you choose , someone will think someone else would be better! This is because while all the books and beekeepers agree on most things, they will differ on some ! Such as swarm prevention, methods of feeding, moving bees etc.
      So choose your beekeeper and stick with them until you are comfortable with your bees and have got to a stage where you feel that these bees are YOURS and you love them and they you.
      Does that sound soppy? I don't mean it to be, you will see what I mean in no time at all.
      The very best of luck in what is probably one of the most important ventures you can adopt.