Delco re:View Fall 2018 - 36

www.DelcoBar.org

THE BUZZ IS ...
Dan Coleman, Esq.,
Makes Honey!
S

ometime in 2014, I was taking my time with breakfast
and reading the Inquirer. I came across an article about
Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious phenomenon
where seemingly healthy bee hives die overnight or disappear.
There is still no consensus as to the cause of Colony Collapse
Disorder and it is still happening. The article focused on the
importance of bees as pollinators and the
major role they play in our ecosystem. To
cite an oft-quoted statistic, if bees were to
become extinct, two-thirds of all produce
would vanish with them. That is a lot of
food. That is a serious problem. So the
article got me thinking. I had a good size
backyard that could accommodate bees.
I like fruits and vegetables. They would
just be bugs in a box, so how hard could
it be?
That week I bought Beekeeping for
Dummies. I spent the next few weeks
reading through it to determine just how
hard it would be to start and maintain a
bee hive. It seemed doable so I began
telling my family and friends about
my potentially becoming a beekeeper.
Someone was listening because that
Christmas my parents bought me a
beekeeping starter kit - all the pieces to
build the hive, hive tool, smoker, veil,
gloves, the works. I put the hive together the next day, painted it,
and set to figuring how to obtain bees.
As it turns out, obtaining bees is not that difficult. There are
farms that produce small swarms with a queen specifically to sell
to beekeepers wanting to establish new hives. I could have even
elected to receive my bees through the mail but chose to purchase
them from a local honey farm. The proprietor of that farm was
named Jim Bobb and he provided me with 3 pounds of bees with

36 | Fall 2018

one marked queen so she was easy to spot when I inspected the
hive.
Establishing the hive was a bit nerve-wracking. I had to take
my package of bees, which was a cage about the size of a shoe
box with a few thousand bees inside, and carefully remove the
queen cage - a little box containing the queen and two attendants
with an exit blocked by a cube of sugar.
The queen cage is hung in the hive.
Then I fully open the package of bees
and shake them out of the package into
the hive around the queen cage. Bees
are everywhere and I am banging a box
against their new home. It was all very
strange. The idea, though, is that the
loose bees will acclimate to their new
home and to their queen while she is
safely in her queen cage. Otherwise, if
the bees did not accept the queen at first,
they would kill her. The exit blocked
with sugar gives the bees several days
to acclimate to the queen because that is
how long it takes the queen attendants to
eat through the sugar.
After the bees are in the hive, the
attention shifts to feeding them - just
simple syrup - and inspecting them to
make sure they like their new home.
I have never had a problem hiving
bees. The queen is always accepted and the bees always start
building comb and spreading propolis (bee cement, basically)
immediately.
Inspecting is the fun part. You light up the smoker, make sure
the smoke is thick but not too hot, and gear up. Believe it or not,
the bees are usually not aggressive. Most of the time I get stung
because I accidentally squish one. Nevertheless, it seems too


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