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Honeybee packages, Boulder Co

Bees packages are approx 10,000 bees (5 lbs). These are from 2011. Because of cool temps they spent 3 days in the house - yes it is as creepy as it sounds!

I think most of you (all 3 of you) know that Chris and I are beekeepers. I like to fuss that this is actually Chris’ hobby yet I’m the one stuck wrangling 300,000 feisty Italians because he ended up working a long show instead of attending the beekeeping classes (insert breath to accommodate poor sentence construction) but in all honesty I LOVE being the queen bee of our little “ranch” (cracking the whip and making them produce MORE honey… I’m like Cruella DeVille except my coat is made of bee wings!) and I’m tickled to death with my latest role as the local “BEE LADY!!!!!” when it comes to frantic calls about swarms forming in the middle of backyard BBQ’s. The way people react to my cowboy boots and cardboard box when they’re expecting a frazzled ex-hippy in a hazmat suit with a butterfly net is pretty funny.  I’m sure we’ll be catching a few swarms this summer so I’ll keep you posted on the fun.

Frame of honey with honeybees Boulder Co

This is what I was hoping to find, calm honey bees enjoying a nice day on the honey. See how beautiful honeycomb is? Looks like white silk.

Anywho, the temps in Boulder are warming up so the bees are starting to come out of the hives to stretch their wings and forage for nectar to nurse the first eggs of Spring. Because they are getting active and requiring more food I decided to open the hives (for the first time this year) to make sure they have enough honey to last until the dandelions open (the first major source of nectar for honeybees so STOP PULLING THEM UP!!!) and to see if I could find any egg laying activity. Guess who didn’t like the plan…

Sometime over the last few months the cool, calm, sweet ladies I put to bed last October turned into CRAZY bitches! The minute I cracked the top covers those wenches exploded out of those hives like a busted fire hydrant and started buzzing my head and dive-bombing me from every direction! The plan was to take photos of their soft little fuzzy clusters hanging onto beautiful frames of my Colorado Gold (what I call my honey) but nope, they actually ran me back into the house before my gloved hands could maneuver the camera out of my back pocket. Spring can be a feisty time for bees. The girls are so excited to get moving but they can’t really ramp up to speed until the queen is laying so they have all this energy (think honey rush) but nothing to occupy their busy dispositions…that is until a laid back beekeeper comes along with some sugar water and a camera. Apparently idle bee wings are also the devil’s playthings.

Honeybees with pollen - pollen sacks on honeybees

The bee on the lower right has full sacks of pollen on her hind legs. As they fly back to the hive the bees will brush all of the pollen from their backs and bodies into the sacks so that it's easier to bring into the hive and store.

Because I couldn’t dig down into the hives as far as I wanted to go, I made the decision to give the girls some sugar water to make sure they’ve got what they need for the next few weeks. They won’t take sugar if they still have honey so there’s no harm in the double duty. I did see them bringing in pollen on their hind legs (they have pollen sacks / baskets on their back legs that they fill while out collecting – looks like they’re bringing home little yellow tic-tacs) which is a great sign that the queen has started laying. Fingers crossed our newby worries are behind us and we’re at the start of a banner honey year! I’ll know more as soon as Chris is back with his smooth talking ways to unruffle a few thousand female feathers and give us a chance to really get into the hives and see what they’re up to… hey, his charms worked on me when we were dating.

I thought I’d share the newsletter I’m sending out to the neighborhood with regards to one of the most important things we can all do to help the bees – if you don’t mind giving it a try, the backyard beekeepers of the world will be so thankful!

Hi there!  I’m Spice Jones, one of the many beekeepers in the neighborhood – Happy Spring!!!  Now that our temps are reaching 50+ degrees the honeybees are starting to leave the hives in search of pollen and nectar to be able to feed the next round of bees…and I’m hoping you will consider doing a little favor for the neighborhood bees.

I’m sure you’ve heard that the Honeybees are having a very difficult time right now. One of the many theories points a finger at the common household pesticides and herbicides we use on our lawns and in our gardens each day…Roundup being the most popular.  I’m not asking for you to stop using your favorite products (although I’d love it if you would) but instead I’m hoping you might consider applying your chemicals late in the evening, after the bees are back in their boxes (just before sunset). This will give the chemicals time to soak in and hopefully keep the girls from bringing it back to the hive while foraging the next day.  Because the bees are very social the smallest spec of pesticide on one single bee is capable of disabling the entire hive.

Many of us believe that backyard beekeepers are the solution to bringing back the bees. As a result the number of beekeepers in Boulder has grown exponentially in the past two years and the beautiful gardens throughout the neighborhood are proof of their increased presence.  Feel free to contact me if you would like to come visit the bees or learn more about the fabulous things they do. I love showing them off and will gladly talk as long as your willing to listen!

Thanks so much!

Spice Jones

Neat Bee Facts:

  1. One third of the food produced in the world is in some degree dependent on Honeybees.
  2. Honeybees are the only insects that produce food for humans
  3. Honeybees will travel approximately 3 miles from their hives
  4. To make 1 pound of honey, bees in the colony must visit 2 million flowers, fly over 55,000 miles and it will be the lifetime work of approx 300 bees.
  5. A single honeybee will produce 1/12 of a teaspoon of hone in her lifetime
  6. One ounce of honey would fuel a honeybee’s flight around the world.
  7. By late August there can be as many as 120,000 bees in a hive. By late winter the population will drop as low as 10,000.
  8. At her busiest, a strong queen can lay 1500 eggs each day…some believe she will lay as many as 2000 /day.  She’s a busy lady!

For more information about the bees in your area please feel free to contact me or reach out to the bouldercountybeekeepers.org.

Happy Spring!

THE BEE LADY!!!!!!!

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