Honey Bees Are On The Way

It’s November 2018 as I rewrite this post from 2010. Again, I’m struck by how I talked like I knew what I was talking about even though I had no experience as a beekeeper. Luckily installing a nuc is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require a great deal of experience to grasp. Most of what I wrote, even with no experience, seems accurate.

Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster the wait is over. I just got a call confirming that I can pick up my honey bees in 2 weeks. It will cost $400 for two nuc packages and I’ll have to drive eight hours to get them, but at least I know I’m going to have honey bees for two hives this year. Nuff said.

Okay, so what’s a nuc package and how does it work?

This is a nuc package. To reduce confusion, let’s call it a nuc box, because that’s what it is: a small box that contains the nucleus of a honey bee colony. A nuc box typically holds 4 deep frames, several thousands bees and a mated queen. Three frames will contain a combination of honey, pollen and eggs, everything a colony needs to stay alive. One frame is usually left empty so the worker bees have something to work on while they’re stuck in the box during shipment to their new hive.
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My First Contact with Actual Honey Bees

It’s November 2018. I’m revisiting everything I wrote on this blog since 2010. When I’m embarrassed by what I see, I delete it or rewrite it. (I also don’t want to mislead anyone with bad information or half-baked ideas.) While there are a few things in this post that seem kind of silly now, I won’t change much. I’ll keep it as a record of where my thinking was before I had bees. But I’ll tell you right now what’s embarrassing. #1: “I could probably write a book about beekeeping…” I thought that because I spent a few too many years in university researching and writing and believing that that skillset qualified me to write a book and give advice about beekeeping. It other words, I had an ego.

This is the big one that way too many people fall for. Zero experience with taking care of bees, but if I talk to other beekeepers and read enough about it and work it all out in my head, then of course I can advise people about beekeeping. Man, I could even write a book about it. That kind of dumb ego arrogance is rampant in beekeeping — in beekeeping associations, in online forums, in casual conversations with new beekeepers. It’s everywhere and I wasn’t immune to it. I was wise enough, I hope, to eventually back off from it before I rubbed too many people the wrong way.

And for record, I don’t really trust anyone who talks like they know what they’re talking about when it comes to beekeeping. The few mentors who have made a difference to my beekeeping usually answer my questions by first saying, “Well, I don’t know, but this is what I do and sometimes it works.” I’m embarrassed by my general “Don’t worry, I got this” attitude in this post, saying idealized things like “let the bees be bees” and going out of my way to explain everything — like one does when one has no experience. What a funny phenomena. I’d much rather delete everything, but let’s just go back to 2010 when I said…

I’ve researched everything I can about honey bees for the past year. I could probably write a book about beekeeping (or at least a series of detailed blog entries). But until now, it would have all been from a theoretical point of view because I hadn’t had any practical experience handling honey bees. And I’m beginning to think that after all the time and effort I’ve put into this, beekeeping is not going to happen for me this year. It’s been almost two months since I’ve heard from the one beekeeper in Newfoundland who might be able to supply with me some bees. I don’t know what’s happening, and subsequently I’m imagining the worst: they’re going to tell me tough luck, no bees for me this year. My beautiful bee hive may be collecting dust until next summer. I sure hope not.

At any rate, I got a little itty bitty bit of practice in last night when Aubrey Goulding at Paradise Farms let me take a peek inside one of his honey bee hives.

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