Thursday, July 3, 2014

They're Alive!!

After almost 2 weeks we finally came to check on the bees. They're very much alive!  We also received our first bee stings!

They say that you should not open your hive at night because that's when the bees are all home from a day of foraging. Well....we shoulda listened but we didn't. We really just wanted to make sure they were alive and that the gallon baggies of simple syrup didn't explode. 

We didn't bother suiting up but went straight to the hive when we got to the ranch. Plenty of bees hanging out front and it appears that they've chewed on the opening some to make a bigger door. 

The bees didn't bother us a bit. So...we decided to open the top to check the syrup bags. They ate a lot but there was still plenty. 

No sooner had I got a picture when they started coming for Quin. He quickly dropped the lid and headed for the truck. They weren't bothering me so I thought...let's take another picture.!  One bee flew into my hair and stung my scalp. NICE!  I also headed for the truck but was able to get the old girl to leave me bee. Quin went back and gently replace the lid and tied it all on. We may have lost a couple to a squishing death in the process. 

Tomorrow we'll suit up and get a better look and better pictures in the daylight!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Almost Bee Time Again

It is almost time to go to the ranch to check on the bees.  It will be almost 2 weeks since we were last there.  Our current concern is whether or not the gallon baggies of simple syrup we deposited on the top of the hive are still intact, or if they exploded or if they did their job of holding and allowing the bees to get at the syrup from the small hole we made at the top.

The bees certainly found the bags and one for sure knows how to get at it.  We just hope that the bags didn't go sploooey and drown any bees.

The bees are so docile that we didn't even suit up to check on them before we left.

On other news...we may be adding another critter to our home.  This cutie was found at Target by our neighbor.  We're going to adopt her once she's checked out and spayed.  We're calling her Gracie.  If all goes well, she'll be joining the Beckelheimer household in the next week or so.  Isn't she precious?  We think she is a Lynx-point Siamese.  We're hoping Harleigh, our Seal-point Siamese will accept her without too much fuss.


Harleigh....who knows what she is staring at!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Now The Wait...

We headed to Dripping Springs Thursday night and stayed at a wonderful B&B.  Mt. Gainor Inn is a cozy little place on the edge of Texas Hill Country.  The proprietors were wonderful and extra snaps to them because I left my dSLR camera there and they are being so kind to ship it back.  We didn't realize that we left it behind until we were about 4 hours away.  

But onto the bees. We headed out to pick up our hive around 10am. The BeeWeaver bee barn was a hopping place. All kinds of people were there to pick up queens, package bees, nucs, and full colonies. Besides the colony we were getting, we had some gear to pick up. While standing in line to get the gear, I listened to some of the questions being asked. It made me feel good to know that there were some people there that knew less than we did. I was a little surprised. Whereas beekeeping isn't a real expensive hobby, it does involve a bit to get started, and you'd think you would at least know enough to be able to tell the merchant what you paid for and how to get them home. After a bit of a wait for gear we were checked in and presented with about 40,000 bees. We felt like proud new parents.  Here's Quin waiting patiently. 

So in the back of the truck they went. On our way to the ranch we stopped in to visit a new friend, one of the officers of the local beekeeping association. He was excited for us and wanted to give us a few last minute tips. About 2 1/2 hours later we arrive to put the hive in its forever home. 

Coming out of the hive to check out their new surroundings. 

Gearing up!

Quin putting some cardboard around the entrance as a reducer. It will take less guard bees for a smaller opening. That means more bees working. We used cardboard so that when they're ready for more space/more bees hatch, they'll chew right through the cardboard and make it as big as they want. 

This is the basic colony. It is only the beginning. 

A frame of bees building their honeycomb and hopefully, a Queen making more bees. 

The base brood box. 

Up close. 

We'll check the hive Saturday and Sunday to make sure the girls are still hanging around, but I think we are off to a good start!

We're home!

Well we had a but of an adventure getting here, but we finally got the hive installed and in its forever home. 

I'll post more later with details of our busy day. Dinner first and a bit of time to relax with some wine. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ready to Roll

We are buzzing with excitement today and it's making it hard to do our real life job.  We'll be picking our first hive up tomorrow and taking it to its forever home.  All of the new equipment has arrived, just in the nick of time and now it's time to load it up for the long trip to the merchant's apiary and down to the ranch.

We'll be picking up a 10-frame full strength deep hive that will have 8-frames of brood, bees, and honey.  We have a second deep hive to add to this that will be the staple brood for the bees.  We also have two supers to add to the hive throughout the summer.  We hope we'll be able to use both, since we've had a decent amount of rain and lots of foliage for the bees.

I think we're all geared up with suits, smoker, tools, etc. and Quin built a heavy duty stand that is leveled and wired to the ground so that wind, rain, hogs, nor deer should not be able to knock the hive over.  The hive will be well strapped to the stand, so I think the bees will be happy in their new home.  Once we've got everything in place, we just need to check on the brood every couple of weeks and make sure that the queen is reproducing and the workers are building their home and hopefully building some honey supplies.

This has been an eye-opening endeavor and I am glad we only started with one hive.  Many have told us that we should start with two so that we can compare hives.  I think with us concentrating on one hive, though, that our success rate might be better and then we'll add one or two next year and be able to compare a year one vs year two hive.  It is all really a personal choice and every beekeeper will tell you something different.

We've been fortunate to have gotten involve in the Alamo Area Beekeepers Association.  The VP of the organization has been very helpful and offered us wonderful guidance.  He's caused us to rethink some things as well as confirm that we are generally moving in the right direction.

Pictures of our installation are forthcoming!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

First Timers

This is our first year for a beehive.  The idea came about when Quin had to deal with some massive bees on the ranch.  They were likely africanized, yet didn't seem to pose a harm to anyone.  These bees were building a hive under a storage building and Quin was afraid that they would cause problems down the road and we didn't want to have aggressive bees chasing anyone.  He eradicated them but they still tend to show up from time to time.  As we read about africanized bees we learned that there is quite a shortage of honeybees due to Colony Collapse Disorder and other diseases.  Because of that, the nations honey resources are dwindling at an alarming rate.  Honey and beeswax is so beneficial to health and wellness that we decided to try our hand at beekeeping.  And so....Goofy Ranch Bee Company was founded in May 2014.

For now, it is a hobby.  Something fun to spend money on and have some local honey to share with friends and family.  We hope that it could be a retirement career down the road.  Who knows.  So for the time being, we'll go on this adventure and see where it takes us.

This Friday we will pick up a new colony with an Italian queen bee.  These are docile honeybees, not the africanized ones we originally found on the ranch.  We've had a good amount of rain at the ranch and there is lots of brush and foliage for the bees to pollinate and feed on.

We've tried hard to educate ourselves and prepare for our first hive.  So far, no major snafus.  We original bought the wrong size hive boxes but luckily realized it before pickup time so we were able to return what we originally bought and buy the correct size.  Everything should arrive on Thursday, in time for our Friday pickup.

Pictures to come!

Welcome to the Goofy Ranch Bee Company

Hello and welcome to the Goofy Ranch Bee Company.  The Cowboy and I are excited to start this new adventure.  We'll be placing our first hive this Friday and hope that the bees like us enough to stick around.  We'll keep you posted on the buzz around the ranch and how the bees and honey progress.