Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bee Ready

Yesterday my two packages of honeybees were shipped from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. I'm expecting delivery any time this week. It's been difficult to prepare for the delivery of bees this spring because of unseasonal snow, many days of dreary rain, and temperatures well below average.

Last night my team worked feverishly to make our final preparations. First we needed to finish building a level bee yard in our steeply sloping backyard. They made one more trip to the building supply store for landscape timbers and quickly had this finished.

Next we used a builder's level to make sure the hives were completely level. Since bees build comb perpendicular to the center of the earth, it's critical to make sure the hives are level. If the bees build crooked comb or "cross comb," the whole hive can quickly fuse itself together into a mess that's impossible to inspect or harvest.

By suppertime the bee yard was ready and the hives were installed. After dark, we melted a chunk of beeswax in a double boiler and painted a line of wax along the top bars exactly where we hope the bees will build comb.

The last thing to get ready is to prepare sugar water to use in a spray bottle. Sugar water will distract the bees into a grooming habit. This is in lieu of smoking them, which confuses them. I also need to prepare some sort of feeder for them. Many folks use sugar water in a jar feeder, but I think I'll provide honey instead.

Now I'm just waiting for the call from the post office asking me to pick up my packages. And yes, I'm a little nervous!

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