A Short Update

So Far So GoodCurrent conditions: SUNNY and 39 DEGREES. And it is SO GOOD to see these ladies alive and humming. Winter claimed two of our three hives, and honestly, there is very little in life that is more sickening than opening up a dead hive, especially one with plenty of honey.  With any luck, we’ve made it through the sub-zero stage of the Iowa winter, and we can start feeding them some sugar water soon. Fly my pretties! FLY!!

On another note, it’s been a tough few weeks. OK, I shouldn’t say something like that. Because it hasn’t been that tough, really. Everyone is healthy and nothing bad has happened. It’s just been so COLD and we’ve been really busy and also my cooking experiments have just turned out badly. So I’m complaining, as per usual. [click to continue…]

How to Make Hard Candy for Bees

How to Make Hard Candy for BeesThis past winter was a particularly difficult one for our bees. They had plenty of food and were well sheltered for winter. Despite this, we lost one hive completely, a second hive lost its queen, and the third hive took several months to recover from nosema. This year, I’ve been keeping a closer watch, and things are looking OK so far. But we have a long ways to go before spring.

It seems to me that the most important way to help your bees survive the winter is to make sure they have plenty of stored honey (though it’s no guarantee). Because our colonies were very slow to build their populations after that awful winter, their honey production was also much slower than in years past. All three of our current hives appeared to have adequate stores last fall, though none of the three produced enough honey for us to harvest (fortunately, honey doesn’t go bad, and we still have a few bottles left over from the year before). [click to continue…]

Preparing for Winter

Preparing for WinterWe’ve had a gorgeous fall here this year, and last Saturday was a particularly beautiful day that gave us a little bit of time to finish getting Ye Olde Thornberry Homestead ready for winter. Don’t get the wrong idea here though. We didn’t do much of anything that is too complicated. Complications are more of a springtime thing. Still we were fortunate to be able to get everything done because nastiness (yes, that’s snow) hit Monday night and has apparently come to stay. [click to continue…]

Of Bees and Children

Bee on blossomA lot of people have asked us why we started keeping bees, and I talked about that in my first bee post.  But inevitably their next question will be something like “is it scary?”  My response to that is always “yes, it’s terrifying, it’s just like raising kids!”

And that’s true in so many ways!  For me, the decision to keep bees was kind of the same as the decision to have children: I always knew I wanted to do it, and then I felt ready, and then it just kind of happened.  And of course, doing both of these things for the first time triggered a pretty much identical response.  Whether I was in labor and on the way to the hospital, or on my way to pick up my first package of bees, I had the same exact thought: holy crap, what was I thinking? [click to continue…]

A Check on the Beehives

A Check on the BeehivesIt’s officially summer, and things are really starting to take off around here.  I mentioned that we added three packages of bees this year, and they’re all doing really well at this point!  I checked the hives this morning and was really excited about what I saw. [click to continue…]

New Bees



Last weekend we picked up seven new packages of bees from Phil over at Ebert Honey in Lynnville, and brought them back for installation in new hives.  Four packages went to my sister’s house, where she is thrilled to have become a new beekeeper!

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Cleansing Flights

bees in flight  We finally caught a break in the weather!  Short though.  WAY too short…  Since it was around 50 degrees last weekend, I decided to trudge out to the hives and take a little look.   I’m so glad I did.  There were bees everywhere!  I know, I know.  How can that be?  It’s still winter, there is snow on the ground, and there are no flowers! [click to continue…]

Second Winter with the Bees

Our WeddingAt our wedding (old photo, sorry about the blur), our friend Steve (pictured at far right) read us a short story that he had written.  It was about an aging couple, remembering the days when they kept bees.  It was sweet and full of advice for keeping a marriage alive.  The main point, of course, was that marriage and beekeeping are both an adventure.  One where you may get stung, but one where you also will enjoy the sweet taste of honey (hee hee).

I’ve wanted to keep bees ever since.

A few years ago, we started to really get more serious about gardening and started our own small aquaponics system, and the time finally seemed right for beekeeping.  So I ordered some bees, got a bunch of books, watched a ton of videos, and nearly DIED of anxiety just thinking about actually keeping bees. [click to continue…]