The B-Haven Apiary originally started in Clements, California, located by Lake Comanche. This was a 47 acre ranch. It then moved to Sunnyvale, California, which is a suburban location. B-Haven Apiary has now been moved to Florence, Texas, which is an hour North of Austin and 30 minutes from Georgetown.
In a previous blog, I described how I spent a significant amount of time clearing a one acre pasture for the apiary. The pasture was full of brush, cedar trees, and prickly pear. Kind of like a jungle. Now that the pasture is cleared, the wild flowers are blooming – Mustard, verbena, Indian paintbrush, etc. And of course the Texas state wild flower – blue bonnets! The wild flowers brought in the humming birds and the butterflies.
So I decided to start this apiary off with 3 new hives. I ordered the unassembled hives from Dadant. They were very helpful. The only local supplier of queens, that I was able to find, was Bee Weaver. They are located in Dripping Springs which is 30 minutes South of Austin. So Bee Weaver is 1.5 hours South of our farm. So Evelyn and I drove there this Saturday to pick up our bees. The round trip was under 3 hours. So the drive was not too bad.
In the past, I have started new hives with Queen Packages, which are a box of worker bees and a queen in a cage. A Queen Package is created by caging a young queen that has just mated (artificial or natural) with several thousand worker bees in a box. The queen has to be caged so that the worker bees have time to accept her. Otherwise they would kill her.
Installing a Queen Package in a hive consists of dumping the worker bees into the hive and adding the Queen Cage and then adding a can of syrup for food. I like to attach the Queen Cage with a wire so that I can easily get to it. The Queen Cage has a cork in the entrance. I replace the cork with a small marsh mellow. By the time the Worker Bees eat through the marsh mellow, the worker bees have had enough time to accept the queen, and the queen is now free in the hive to lay eggs. After 3 days, I check to make sure that the queen has been released from her cage. It not, the do it by hand. Once the queen is released from the cage and free then the hive is up and running.
This time I decided to start my new hives by using Hive Nukes. A Nuke or Nucleus consist of a frame of honey (food), 3 frames of brood with worker bees, and a laying queen. Installing a Nuke is easy. Just replace 4 frames in the new hive with the Nuke frames. I like to spread the frames out by placing an empty frame between each Nuke frame. This is a simple process that I much prefer over installing Queen Packages.
Nukes are more expensive though. A Nuke cost is $210. A Queen Package cost is $120. But you get what you pay for. A Nuke also jumps starts the hive. A Nuke already has frames with brood. It takes a Queen Package at least 10 days to do that.
So B-Haven Apiary is now alive and well in Florence, Texas. It currently consists of three hives. At this time, I am feeding the bees sugar water (50%) to help them build comb. I will feed them until I add the first honey super.
In the mean time, I am busy clearing brush and cedars from the other 1 acre pasture in the front. I ordered some blue bonnet and wild flower seeds to help improve the bee forage. We are looking forward to this year’s honey harvest.