Oh boy….well, first, accept that it’s been nearly a year since I updated the blog. Sorry!

Ok, business. The last article was about setting up packages. After the severe neglect (shamefully intentional) in 2017, I had to double down on bees. Now I’ve proven to myself already, that I can rebuild.

So I set up 15 packages, in addition to I think 3 colonies that I had left. Within a couple weeks, one of the new packages was sold as a nuc, and another withered away (I suspect weak queen and merging with a neighbor hive). Throughout the year I did a few removals, but far less than usual, and didn’t have much luck retaining very many of them. I made a few splits here and there, and I think exited the year thinking I had 19 colonies. Not nearly the rebuild that I was hoping for, but it is what it is. I have no shame admitting that I could have done better, and built up faster. Priorities tend to shift rapidly around my place, and unfortunately, the bees (being mostly self sufficient) tend to get the raw deal. But I’m trying to make it better!!

I solicited the services of my now retired father in law to aid. Funny thing about retirement. He seems to think he only has to work when he feels like it… : ) He is pretty good about keeping them fed, but he’s not quite up on the game when it comes to routine inspections, splits, etc. We’ll get him there!

Through the winter I know I’ve dropped a few more. I’ll be generous with myself and assume I’m at 15 now. What!? That’s shameful! All it really means is I didn’t grow any from last year. But I also maintained what I have at little to no cost. I learned a long time ago not to tread on the “failures” but rather to always look for the silver lining to a situation, and celebrate it.

The most important thing to note is that I’m going into this year with 15 stable colonies ready to explode into stronger colonies. And they’re already showing it! We had a few we could have probably split two weeks ago, but I just wasn’t quite ready to do it. And I’m glad I didn’t as we’ve since had a lot of cold and rainy weather which would have really stressed them. I can readily accept that taking it slow is just fine. Thankfully I’m in that position, that I don’t rely on my bees for income.

The stretch goal for 2019 would be to get to 50 colonies. And I say that with a very reserved optimism. That would exceed my current inventory of boxes, meaning a lot more time in the wood shop. And it would mean a lot more splits or better retention on removals. I’d be quite content to get back up around 30 hives. Really, I probably have the box inventory to support 30, but I don’t have the hive rails, and doubt I have bottom and top boards for it. Remember my FIL…? Turns out he wants to learn basic woodworking. Boy do I have the perfect opportunity!

So, here’s to lessons learned, and a bright future!

AuthorTom Brueggen