Beekeeping Redux

Well, I tried for several years to raise honeybees when we were in Utah and it was essentially a bust.

You can't harvest honey the first year, because you need to let the bees build up the hive to survive the winter. So, the first year is a lot of care and feeding. I did that for a year, and they didn't survive the winter. Twice, I think (it blurs together).

The third time I ordered Russian bees (bees don't vote). They were really cool looking (more gray than yellow). They're bred to overwinter well and be more mite resistant. They were very strong and were my first hive to survive the winter! They were super active in the spring and I was very hopeful.

Then they swarmed. No biggie, there should be enough bees left behind for a viable hive.

Then they swarmed again.

I tried to work with what was left, but if I had a queen in the leftovers, she died at some point. The hive just sort of evaporated before I could get a replacement queen.

When we were packing to move to Washington I gave all my bee hardware away. No room on the truck for useless bee boxes.

Bees fell off my personal radar. I'm aware of local honeybee keepers, but I'm not ready to drop another couple hundred bucks to spin the wheel of disappointment again.

Then, a few weeks ago, Jena tells me about a seminar at the city nursery about Orchard Mason Bees. A native bee species that is a super efficient pollinator and very good to have around.

I like bees, so I went. It was super interesting!

Keeping honeybees is very transactional. You build suitable places for hives, give them food, water, and medicine. In return, you get honey. Delicious, delicious, honey.

Mason bees are so different. Really the only part that's the same is that you provide them with a suitable place to lay eggs (well, providing them with good pollen options by way of flowers and some water is nice, but not required). They do their thing and hopefully fill your bee house with eggs for next year.

In the late summer/fall you collect the cocoons and store them until next spring when you start all over again.

So I'm trying my hand at it this year. I'm still a beekeeper, with a bunch of little buzzing buddies that I will do my best to care for. I just won't have any honey to show for it. But hopefully I'll end up with more bees to start the next year with.