This is our 4th year of keeping bees at the property. We just this year have started to be able to harvest some honey. I read numerous wonderful books about beekeeping – but have found that I needed lots of hands-on experience to start to understand my hives.
This spring (2014) I was able to keep two of three hives in healthy condition. We lost one hive to honey robbing when I did not watch it carefully enough during the winter. This year I will try and split the two hives into four.
We seem to need more forage for the bees – especially in the late summer and early fall. I have planted clover for them – but need to get in some other plants that will give better late season nectar. We have a very strong deer presence that viciously attack any new plants we plant. We hope to get a perimeter deer fence up this year.
I put my hives up on blocks with water cups under the hive supports to help with ant control. I have them facing south under some redwood trees for winter sun and summer shade – well away from the wedding venue area. I cut out the bottoms and put in 1/8 inch screens for better ventilation.
I have been lucky with the Italian Queens as far as temperament. I have only been stung once when I was moving too aggressively with a disrupted hive. I can now open the tops to feed them and do other chores without using protective equipment. I still need a vail when I remove the foundations for inspection – but am OK with bare arms. No one else has ever been stung as the bees are located north of our orchard away from most of our human activity.