I have very much enjoyed learning about honeybees while managing a small apiary here on our property. We have three hives and while I am confident that our property and surrounding area can easily support more hives, I just really don’t want to be tripping over bee hives so 3 is enough.
We have had a productive summer with the bees, harvesting over 140 pounds of honey that the boys are selling under the Altamont Farms brand. It’s a lot of work but I enjoy it and feel comfortable with the bees, learning their habits and conditions.
My friend, Eric, lives a few miles away. His house is unique for the area because it is actually two lots with his house up front and a large garden on the back lot. His mother-in-law, a really sweet woman, is an avid gardener and the back lot is actually her property. She and I have been friendly over the years, sharing common interests of gardening and food.
She had a beekeeper maintaining hives in her garden but from what I could see he was just using the space to raise nucs. He is moving on and you can imagine my delight when she offered me the opportunity to keep some hives in the garden.
The investment in woodwork, the hive components, is significant but that is a one-time expense. I need ten new medium boxes and frames, along with bottom boards and stands. I am particular about the woodwork components and I paint everything not just for the protection from elements but also for the aesthetic. I made the bases from redwood that I salvaged from a fence that was taken down.
Eric and I headed up in Woodside yesterday to see another friend, Konrad, a local beekeeper who has nucs for sale as well as a thriving queen rearing operation. Konrad is someone I met through beekeeping and he has been a good friend who is quick to answer my questions and is generous in so many ways.
We moved the hives down to the garden and got them situated before nightfall. I headed over today to fill the feeders and tomorrow I will make one last visit to take care of some maintenance before leaving them alone for a few weeks to get established.
I added 5 additional hives for a total of 8 hives across two properties and am looking forward to learning new skills in the spring, like splitting a hive. I will also be curious to experience the difference in honey produced a few miles away!