Langstroth to Warre hive move

Langstroth to Warre hive move

Langstroth to Warre hive move

Expanding our apiary to include the other type of top bar box, I commissioned a Warre hive from Darren Gorden of House of Bees. Darren does super work and it’s a pretty hive! Ted painted it an especially nice yellow that goes well with the lavender Kenyan hives.

In August I acquired a feral swarm. This swarm came in a cardboard nuc box on Langstroth deep foundationless frames. I wanted to hive this swarm in the Warre hive. The catch here is that the Warre bars are about half the size of the Langstroth frames. It was clear we were going to have to do some surgery to move the bees from the cardboard nuc to the finished Warre hive.

Last week we performed the operation. Our mentor George came over to assist. They worked out a rhythm: Darren split the wood on top of the Langstroth hives, Ted sawed through the comb to split it in half, Darren screwed Warre bars to each half and inserted them into the Warre hive. George handled the frames, brushing bees off, taking the discarded pieces away, and managing the hive so it stayed happy. I took pictures and called out encouragment.

Ted and I were awfully appreciative of Darren and George’s time and effort. Darren took a video, hopefully he’ll put it up on his web site.

Link: House of Bees.

Sequim lavender festivals

Purple Haze Lavender Farm

Purple Haze Lavender Farm

Last weekend Ted and I squired his mom around the lavender festival. I haven’t been for some years. Now that I have my own micro-field of lavender I was interested to check out established farms and examine: how big the plants can get (big!), irrigation systems (drip at the root line), mulch (plastic sheet, oyster shell, weeds), and how many products can be made from lavender oil (too many to list).

We have enough lavender farms in Kitsap and surround that a mini-fair would be possible here. There are two vendors who show up just in the Bremerton Farmers Market! There’s the excellent example of the Sequim farms to learn from. Lavender weekend is wildly popular, the crowds were huge even with the (unseasonable in Sequim) rain.

A note on the festivals. There were three. The Sequim Lavender Festival, now in its 15th year, was free and featured new and smaller farms, and had the lavender and white signs. The Sequim Lavender Farm Faire, in its first year, charged $10 for a button that let you onto a bus touring the large established farms. Each of those farms was its own festival, with vendors, music, food, and a schedule of activities every day. The faire tour included a grand vendor fair with music and food in Carrie Blake park. They had the lavender and yellow signs. Also there was a street fair which has been in existence for a while and had a few white and black signs.

Hives at Purple Haze

Hives at Purple Haze

We did not inquire why the old festival had the new farms and the new festival had the well-organized older farms. We just went to some farms on each tour. Our theme was…bees! We encouraged the Blackberry Forrest folks to learn about bees, because a lavender field surrounded by acres of blackberries is bee heaven. We tasted Clemmons Honey at Olympic Lavender Farm where the beek had roped off the apiary. He was very nice and talked to us about his honey production. At Purple Haze we tromped out over the muddy parking lot to examine the apiary which was festively painted in lavender and yellow. (That beek needs to check the apiary, some of those hives are thriving and some not so much).

At the Sunshine Herb and Lavender Farm we spent a happy hour with Dr. Maya Bewig, a veterinarian who keeps bees for fun. She had huge pictures of bees, specimen bees in jars, a bee suit on display, and lavender-painted hives in a field out back. She’s a member of the West Sound Beekeepers Association, we gotta see if we can get her out to speak. She had a lot of great information and was really fun to hang with.

We came home with more info and a couple of jars of lavender honey. Maya said she couldn’t taste it, but I really think I can.

Advanced Beekeeping class at West Sound Beekeepers Association

Bee class

Looking at bees

On Saturday Ted and I attended the Advanced Beekeeping class given by the West Sound Beekeepers association. The day started at 8 and ended at 5 with lunch included (delicious homemade pulled pork and coleslaw, with a carrot cake dessert at the afternoon break).

The morning was devoted to presentations by Paul Lundy, president of the state beekeepers associaton, and David Mackovjak and George Purkett, both involved in the queen rearing group and having many years of experience. The material included bee biology, diseases and treatments, seasonal management, and flora that support the bees. Kim Redmond of BEE-IEIO Honey Farm and Darren Gordon of House of Bees discussed honey marketing, and Darren discussed equipment options other than the standard Langstroth, including top bar, Warre, and foundationless Langstroth designs.

In the afternoon Paul, David and George set up stations which we visited in turns to get hands on experience with the procedures. Paul demonstrated hygenic testing designed to measure how good your bees are at cleaning up problems. George showed us two ways to test for the most common pest, varroa mites. David had us open up hives to inspect them and mark drones as practice for marking queens to identify them.

This was a very interesting and informative day. Half the people attending were women and participants spanned all adult age groups. The club’s mentoring focus and openness to new ideas make this a very welcoming place. It’s especially nice to be able to be open about our natural beekeeping approach, as there are many clubs where this is a much less accepted variant.

Ted and I came away with a lot of new information which we hope will help us keep our hives thriving. We now have some ideas about useful things we can do to help the hives. We are setting up a journal to keep our observations of the bees. We also plan to do a baseline inspection of all our combs and make good records so that we can know when something has changed.

We’re deeply indebted to these fine folk in this club. If you are at all interested in keeping bees I highly recommend joining the club, it’s time and money that will save you a lot of effort and puzzlement.