I have always known that my name means honey bee, but I never imagined that I would become a beekeeper. It all started last summer when I noticed that our zucchini wasn't growing. The flowers would bloom and then fall off. I began to pay more attention to what was going on in my garden, or what wasn't going on. Pollinators were scarce even though I have good size perennial garden and raised vegetable beds. I contacted a friend of mine, who is a beekeeper to ask if she would put one of her hives in my yard. Unfortunately, she had lost about half of her hives coming out of the winter. She suggested that I call Best Bees of Boston to see if I could get a hive through them. Best Bees came out to visit my garden and assess where to place a hive. Even though it was late in the "honey bee" season, they had a few hives left that were available. They brought our hive out on my birthday! What a great present! About two weeks after, I noticed that the drones were being removed. I knew that the bees did that going into fall, but this was still summer. As it turns out the queen had died at some point during transport of the hive or right after the arrival. Best Bees will replace your bees if needed and they did. It was almost September and they brought another colony to merge with the remaining bees from the first colony. Fast forward to February and seven plus feet of snow that has fallen since mid January and needless to say, I am worried about my bees!
We had started talking about the possibility of adding a second hive to our garden, but we were not ready to decide. I began reading about treatment free beekeeping and I stumbled upon top bar beekeeping. Wow, did that peak my interest! I read more into it, bought a couple of books and dove right in. I have now ordered a package of bees and a top bar hive. The top bar hive will be coming from Bee Thinking out of Portland, Oregon. The hive should get here about a month or so before the bees, so I will have plenty of time to set it up. While I am waiting for the snow to melt, I have been taking beekeeping classes and reading more. Today is March 1 and it is snowing once again. We have kept the front of the current hive cleared so the bees can get out when they need to. After each snow storm we have seen a few dead bees in the snow. It seems that there is still hope that the colony is alive.
Top bar beekeeping seems to be something that is not done much here in Massachusetts. I have found very little information or experiences about keeping top bar hives in Mass. That is what has inspired me to start this blog. I am sure that I am not the only person in Mass wanting to keep top bar hives, or at least I hope that I am not! This blog will chronicle my experiences beekeeping with the top bar hive and the Langstroth hive. For 2015 we have already signed up with Best Bees of Boston to maintain the Langstroth hive so my focus this year will be mostly on the top bar hive. Of course, that doesn't mean that I won't spend time visiting the Langstroth hive and enjoying the bees that live there!