Long time no blog. You’ll have to forgive me as it has been a busy few months here at the 100th Acre Farm. The first year’s harvest wasn’t too bad. We did suffer some setbacks. These included the raspberry bushes acquiring some type of crumble bury virus which unfortunately resulted in me having to pull up the entire crop. This was very frustrating as they had populated quite a bit and I had to do a lot to get all of them up. When you have a virus it’s best to just clear the patch entirely rather than try and plant fresh ones as they will most likely also acquire the virus. Another setback was that the strawberry patch acquired a fungus. This was likely because I planted them too close together. This year’s crop I spread out much more and it should eliminate the issue.
We were able to get our replacement apple trees into their beds before the end of fall. There are now three raised boxes of four trees each. Everyone sprang up beautifully this spring full with lots of leaves. You can easily tell which two are a year older as they are much bigger. With any luck, we’ll have apples in a few years!
The latest edition to our 100th Acre Farm, however, has been an Apiary! Today I installed a three-pound package containing about 10,000 bees and one Italian queen. It’s been a learning process this winter; deciding on which type of hive to go with, how to care for them, hopefully how to avoid problems.
I opted for a top bar hive due to the lighter weight bars and an Italian Queen for docility. My husband was kind enough to record today’s installation, although I will admit we had some minor issues with the installation. You can read and prepare as much as you want, but ultimately you are going to probably miss a few things. But that’s how you learn!
In the video, you’ll notice 2 things. One, the queen got loose. I ended up piercing the wrong end of the box and instead of getting the candy I got the cork. Our queen had a mind of her own and flew out of the box. Fortunately, she did find her way back in and I spotted her before closing the lid. (Tip: have them mark the queen if you’re new to beekeeping.) The second was that prior to dumping the bees in I only sprayed them with water and not the sugar syrup I’m feeding them. Hence, they were not as docile as we would have liked while dumping them in. We both ended up stung once each, mine through my gloved hand and my husband…well…poor thing ended up with a stinger smack dab in the middle of his forehead. No joke. I tried so hard not to laugh…
Suffice to say neither of us is allergic. While it hurt I’ve had a far worse reaction to a bumblebee 10+ years ago. I will admit, I did quickly run off after that once the hive was closed. But after a few hours, they found their way into the hive and had calmed down considerably. I was able to collect my tools without much issue.
My concern, of course, is how they will take to the queen. Typically, she spends a few days in her cage while they get to know her. I’m hoping the three days of travel we’ll be enough. They weren’t actively attacking the box when I took it out, so I hope that’s a good sign. I’ll know in 10 days if there’s no honeycomb with eggs and she’s gone. Then I’ll order a replacement.