Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jill the Beekeeper

My friend Connie Brown is a beekeeper, also a quilter, a sewer, a quilt appraiser - a lady of many talents who keeps busy, busy, busy. My daughter Jill who teaches second grade was fascinated by Connie's talents. She wanted to meet Connie and her bees up close and personal - what a great experience to bring back to her second-graders! Soooo, off we went to spend the morning with some very industrious bees. Connie gave Jill an official suit to wear - every inch of you is covered. Jill is waiting to put on head gear because of the heat.
In order to relax the bees, Connie makes smoke in the smoker by recycling
egg cartons.
And it's up the hill we go. There are 3 hives to check out.
This is Connie next to the most productive hive; they live up to the term - "busy little bees". We didn't want to disturb them so we moved on to the next 2 hives.
Connie gave us so much background into the way a hive works. The top layers are the honey we eat, middle layer is the honey for the bees to eat and the bottom layer is the Brood box where eggs and Queen live and the young are raised. The first job of a newborn bee is to clean out the cell where they're born. I think these bees are onto something!
The head gear is zipped into place - not a chance for any little bee getting in.
And of course, long sturdy gloves that come up to your elbows!
Jill is "smoking" the hive to relax the bees
and a little more smoke on top.
Connie and Jill are using a "chisel" like tool to get between the panels of honeycomb. This makes it easier to remove them.
Jill is using big tongs to get down and grab one of these panels to remove.
There's been no activity on this panel;  as you can see, none of the combs are filled with honey or sealed.
So this panel will be placed on the end temporarily, making it easier to remove the other panels.
Here is a panel of honeycomb that the bees are working on - filling and sealing. It was fascinating. They are totally oblivious to you being there, they're working their little tails off.
I loved this - it's a special type screen to place on top of the layer where the Queen lives. It's open enough for bees to get out and come and go but the Queen is too big to fit through. But don't feel sad for her, she has attendants; there are housekeeper bees, nurse bees and guard bees all to make her life wonderful!
The bees are very active here; these are the worker bees, the ones that leave the hive in search of nectar. They have the strongest venom and a better defense system making it safe for them to be out and about. Bees that don't have a strong venom have jobs keeping them in the hive.
And here she is - the Queen Bee. You can see her towards the bottom and a little right, she has a longer and little bigger body. Bees pick their queen, they choose the most perfect egg and it is fed Royal Jelly throughout. All other eggs are fed Royal Jelly the first few days only. The nurse bees feed the larvae.
And a comb that has lots of honey.
And all that for this! And it is yummy - Brown's Backyard Honey.
It was just such a fascinating day with so much to learn. I took loads of pictures for Jill to bring back to her second-graders. I know they'll love it and be very impressed that their teacher was BRAVE to get that close to so many bees.
Thanks Connie!

1 comment:

  1. Fantasic photos - always wanted to know about bee-keeping, so glad you shared this.