Final Submission by Katie Neighbors
My hive has survived a year with me, and what better way of celebrating this achievement then to have 60,000 tiny cheers in the background. I’m proud of myself, because I was able to learn and retain a lot of information that I never even heard of till a year ago. In the beginning of March, I went to Rob’s house to check on the bees and to give them a one to one solution of sugar water to wake them up. He showed me one of his hives which he thinks might be failing, but I don’t know. Then we opened up mine and in my opinion they were the perfect example of an over wintered hive, since there were tons of bees and none of them were angry. That is basically what has happened since my last report. On a different note though, because of being in this project I learned about all of the different aspects of food science that honey goes through. I entered my FFA’s leadership demonstration contest and placed second in my chapter’s district for doing a food science demo about the production and evaluation of honey. (Thanks to Mike and Debbie Seib and Rob for letting me borrow some of your stuff.)
Now it is my turn to do all of the beekeeping for myself, with no Rob being there to watch me forget something, or drop a frame. Well the first thing I need to do this spring is move my hive to my house, most preferably a place my mom has picked out and were my sister will never come near. I will also need to split my hive because I am just that awesome of a beekeeper that I have an extremely large amount of bees for this time of the year. When I do split my hive I want to give Rob the split, because he has already lost two of his four hives and I don’t really have enough stuff yet to have another hive at this moment. I do want to try extracting honey this year, don’t know how it will turn out, but it will be interesting. My goal is, if I am able to bottle honey, to find dinosaur bottles to make dinosaur honey (because it never goes extinct-Ha Ha Ha).
Submitted by Katie in Q1
I have made it to December, and I’m still not responsible for the death of 60,000 bees. So everything is going great. I still feel like I don’t really know what’s going on or how to do something, but that is what Rob is for. Since my last report it has become fall and is very cold. We had to feed my hive a sugar water solution to make sure they had enough food to survive the winter. I don’t really remember what the mixture solution was but I believe it was two parts sugar one part water. I also learned that sugar water for bees is like crack for people. As soon as I placed the top hive feeder on my hive, the bees instantly crawled into it and started to drink the solution. I had to refill, all of the way full, it about six times. So now I think they are happy and healthy for the winter. Another very interesting thing I remember about bees, and my mom learned, was that in the fall the bees kick out the drones to die. So as we were going over Robs hives to see how well they were prepared for winter, one of them had a huge pile of dead bees in front of the hive and felt really light. Rob decided to take the hive apart to see if they were still in there, and let’s just say they were alive and full of vengeance.
My plans for spring are not exactly planned out in every detail. Although Rob misplaced my awesome box of magical beehive stuff earlier in the year, it has been found, so now I’m prepared with utensils. Also I will be looking for a location to place the bees at my house were my sister won’t be bothered by them. I plan on attending the bee school to see if I can try to figure out what I’m doing, or how to do it in a more productive way.
Submitted by Katie in Q4
The last time I reported I had recently received my bees, well that was in May, now it’s September and a lot has changed. Just in the past week I am finally liberated from the stupid deep frames. It took forever to accomplish, but it really helped me become a better beekeeper. It helped me search through my hive with more accuracy, because before I removed any of the deep frames I had to make sure that the queen wasn’t on the frame and that there weren’t a log of eggs and larvae on it. Many of the deep frames I gave to Rob so he could have larvae for his new hive that he started. I have experienced the annoyance of burr comb and the difficulty it adds when it’s in a hive. There was also the extreme heat and drought that added to the difficulty of arranging a hive, because sometimes it’s too hot to do anything and during that time either the heat, or the bees, destroyed three of my frames.
I learned how to split a hive and about all of the planning, thinking and Rob’s best advice; Calling Mike. I have also learned about hive beetles, which I blame Rick (Rob’s other mentee) for that experience. I showed a beekeeping poster at my county fair and it got a reserve champion. I worked at the state fair for the white lick club twice and became the designed ice cream girl. I have made so many new friends which are willing to help out with any problems that I run into. It’s still pretty entertaining making Rob think about a strange question that I ask, or him trying to tell me that the queen screams when you squish her and then makes tiny screaming noises as I’m putting a frame back into place. I’m really having a great time especially now that I have made friends that are always willing to help.
Submitted by Katie in Q3
When I started this project I didn’t know anything about bees, well except the biological part, and I thought it sounded interesting so I tried it. My mentor’s name is Rob and he is a really skillful teacher. He showed me the basics with his hive before mine arrived, also I would have some idea of what to expect. Rob called me over to his house when my hive came in and with my little experience in beekeeping I was expecting an already assembled hive, painted and all, but when I walked in his shed and saw a huge box on the ground I realized there was “some assembly required” on my beehive. Rob made me build one to two of each hive piece, but when we found out how slow I was by myself (and a terrible hammerer) we made an assembly line with my dad and Rob putting together the boxes and mailing frames and my mom and I putting the frames together and painting.
My bees came about a week later in a cute little box called a nuc. We ran into some difficulties when we realized the nuc frames were deep frames and I just have medium boxes. So, we placed the five deep frames into two stacked medium boxes and added five medium frames in each box to fill it up. Since then I have visited my hive many times I can find larva, eggs, the queen, drones and they’re never aggressive. I’m still trying to master the art of turning the frame without dropping it and my bees are slow at building out frames, but that always leaves plenty of room to improve. Another interesting thing I have learned is catching a swarm. It involves a lot of problem solving and the one that I experienced was pretty funny. I really enjoy this project, I love interesting things and beekeeping never seems to dull itself. I have become a better problem solver, a not that bad craftsman and now a beginner beekeeper.