Local beekeepers really enjoyed attending beekeeping boot camp at Bee Well Honey Farm last Saturday August 23, 2014. Led by Master Beekeeper Charlotte Anderson (Carolina Honeybees Farm) and Commercial Beekeeper Kerry Owen (Bee Well Honey) the day began with several hours of lecture, discussion and questions. It is important to have a plan before you ever open the hive. After a lot of discussion, it was off to the bee yard for some visual inspection. Some cool white smoke helps to slow down the bees “alarm system”. A good smoker fuel for the beekeeper is dry pine needles. It takes some practice to learn how to light your smoker and keep it lit for a long time but this is a necessary skill. A few gentle puffs – then wait a couple of minutes to give the smoke time to work.
Most of the beekeepers attending the boot camp were in their first 3 years of beekeeping. “Book learning” can only go so far and the newer beekeepers were very interested in inspecting the brood frames in each hive and evaluating the strength and viability of the bees. Weak hives going into winter do not stand a good chance of survival. Each colony must have food(honey), pollen, and a good number of healthy bees. Also, it must have a viable queen. Sometimes it is easy to find the queen or evidence of her (a good laying pattern – fresh milk brood etc) and sometimes it is not so easy. It was a typical hot summer day and wearing a bee suit didn’t make things any easier. Everyone braved the hot weather to enjoy sharing this experience. The bees were very obliging and no one was stung !!!
Everyone had a great learning time. Friends were made and beekeeper friends are great to have. Hopefully everyone who attended will feel a little more confident as they prepare their bees for winter.