|Dale (father-n-law) moving supers|
Well, it is now the end of summer and time to tally my efforts for the 2015 year. No suspense, the answer is 7 hives.
So here is a summery of this years splits. I started with 4 hives but one of those died shortly after the spring started.
Then I had 3-hives: so I split them into 6-hives but I didn't know what I was doing so only 1 made it.
Then I had 4-hives: so I split Dr. D's hive three times but one died. So then I had 3 at the Old Farm and 3 at Dr.D's place.
Then I had 6-hives: so I bought 8 queens and split the hives into 14 total hives. 5 of those queens died right away (or swarmed) - leaving me with 6 at Dr. D's and 3 at the Old Farm.
Then the moths killed one of my original splits and one of my newly queened hives swarmed. So that left me with 7-Hives for 2015. Of course I still have a month or two to fortify these 7 but I am hopeful they will all survive the winter.
I think the biggest set back this year was due to the bleached frames I put in the hive. I did this on the advice of another beekeeper. The actual advice was to bleach the frames then lightly coat them with new wax - however, I didn't have any wax to use so I just bleached and cleaned the frames. The bees did not build on any of them. This made the hives inhospitable and the bees just left.
Of course the other thing I have learned is how to properly identify brood. My first splits failed because I simply didn't know what I was looking at. I am confident that I did not put enough young larva in the splits and therefore the bees could not raise new queens.
Both of these issues will be resolved for next year.
The original hive at Dr.D's place has 100lbs of honey in it - however, I accidentally put mite chemicals in the hive with the honey and that made it unsuitable for harvest. I will distribute this honey between the hives at the end of September. The Beast (at the old farm) had 100lbs but when the hive fell over, the honey was robbed. All the other hives are barely filling two supers deep which they will need for the winter.
So my total harvest consisted of one single frame of honey I took from a hive at the Old Farm - barely a mason jar full.
After a hard year of ups and downs, I have not become a beekeeping mogul just yet. I have however doubled my hives. I think next year will be a much more successful year.
What is my big plan? PALLETS and WILD BEES! I will explain in much more detail later but I plan to recycle wooden pallets to build supers. I then plan to lure feral bees in with lemon grass oil. I already have a area to quarantine these hives until I can get them disease free.
At the same time, I will also split my existing 7-hives during the spring. I think I will split The Beast into 6 even hives and requeen them with Italian queens. I will split the other 2-hives at the Old Farm into 4 each (if they are strong enough). I will leave my strongest hive at Dr. D's un split in case this all goes wrong but I will split the other 3-hives three times each (by removing 2 frames of brood and bees in March, April, and May.) For a total of 24-hives. With what I have learned this year, I think this is doable.
If I can pull this off in 2016 then in 2017 I should be able to divide my hives into a large enough number to turn a profit. Only time will tell.
I did not get the USDA job. My wife and I were devastated by the news. So for now I am still unemployed. My wife is a RN and is working extra days each month which has put us in the black by a little bit. Of course I feel like crap letting her support me but it is what it is. I find myself in a panic most days, trying to figure out how I am going to get back to my six-figure salary when all of the jobs around me are for about $9.50 an hour. I hadn't realized how much I took my income for granted.
I used to scoff at the pro-ball players who would make millions and then find themselves bankrupt a couple of years later. Now I feel I have done the same stupid thing.
However, today I feel calm. I feel this way because God has blessed me so much. Not only are we slightly in the black due to my wife's hard work but out of the blue we received a large (totally unexpected) escrow check from where we had been over paying the house note. It is a miracle and soothes me. This is the 3rd time in the past 5 years things have gotten tight but in both of the first cases, God sent me a windfall right at the last minute. With this escrow check, I feel as if God is letting me know, the windfall is coming, just be patient.
I don't know what the future holds but I know God is with me and it will be okay.