“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
- Albert Einstein
Although it is unclear if Einstein ever said this quote, there could be some truth to the matter. A 2000 Cornell University study concluded that the direct value of honey bee pollination to U.S. agriculture is more than $14.6 billion. I have had an interest in bees for quite some time. Now that we have moved into the country, I can pursue this interest. However, I know very little about what I am doing - so this journey will be a learning adventure to say the least. Luckily for us, our closest neighbor raises bees and is willing to help us out.
In May, we purchased some supers at an auction, again, remember we have no idea what we are doing. There is very little on the internet about how to prepare used bee equipment - so maybe my journey can assist someone else. A new set-up can range anywhere from $200-$1,000 for one hive.
My first task is to clean out the supers. My goal is to get two hives up and running this spring. I plan to use 1 deep chamber and 3 shallow chambers. It is evident that it has been several years since these have been in use.
I am using a paint scrapper, flat-head screw driver and pocket knife to clean out old wax and propolis. Propolis is a super-sticky, gooey material gathered by the bees from trees and plants. The bees use this brown goop to fill drafty cracks in the hive, strengthen comb, and to sterilize their home. I am also scraping paint chips from the outside as my neighbor recommended repainting all the boxes.
Because we do not know the history of the hives and if they were subject to disease or pests, it is important to clean out all we can from the boxes. I'll keep an update of my progress and hope to be ready by March so we can get everything in place for our new little pollinators!
My sister in law gave me Beekeeping for Dummies for Christmas. I am using that as a reference to get started.