I have been attending Beekeeping School on Thursday evenings with the Crystal Bee Supply Company (CBS) in Danvers, MA. I had written in an earlier post that I was going to attend the Seacoast Beekeepers School, but they didn’t start until September 25 and I wanted to get the classes in before spring. So I turned to Essex County Beekeeper’s Association out of Topsfield, MA. Classes start February 15 costing $75 and are held at the Fairgrounds. The fee includes all materials, refreshments and membership in
the Essex County Beekeeper’s Association for 2014. If you are thinking of attending the ECBA’s classes they fill up fast, so get your application in quickly! Alas I was too late and the class had filled. They were kind enough though to include other Bee School’s information in with my returned check.
I then contacted Crystal Bee Supply (CBS) to inquire about their school. I spoke to Vin Gaglione, the owner and signed up for the next class. The course started February 27 with a cost of $93 (includes books, handouts and building your own frame). It is a little bit more, but I can start right away. The company is old school and only works with checks and cash. Their website, while quite informative is not updated on a regular basis. CBS is in Peabody, (Correct pronunciation is peabudy) MA which is about 26 miles from Salisbury. Since I had to mail the check and it was close to the day that the class was to be held, I was worried that it would not get to CBS in time. So, The Fireman and I took a drive to the Crystal Bee Supply to pay for the class. The drive took us less than 30 minutes to do.
I will be taking over hives from my friend Deb. These are located at The New Eden Community Gardens in Newbury, MA. Last week we had a day that reached 51 degrees, so I immediately went to check out the hives to see if I will need to order more bees. We had a pretty harsh and long winter. Upon arriving at the hives after a walk through snow (that is still on the ground even though we are in Spring), I discovered that there were quite a few dead bees and Hive Beetles. The hive is a Langstroth, consisting of two deep-supers, the inner cover and the top. The hive had not been properly prepped for winter and, seeing that there was fresh and old die-off, I was not confident in the health of the hive. Since it was 51 degrees, I knew that I could safely open the hive to get a quick look a the bees. Upon removing the outer cover and the inner cover, I discovered that the bees had telescoped up to the top of the hive. This usually indicates that they probably do not have access to any food and that I need to get them some.
Here in Newbury, MA, we will not be seeing flowering plants for at least a month, therefore the bees do not have access to any food naturally. I made a quick call to CBS to find out what I can use. I figured that I probably would need fondant. Vin answered the phone and verified that I did indeed need fondant and then informed me that they did not have any! The beekeeping class uses Penn State Extension’s Beekeeping Basics book and in it there is a recipe for fondant that they call Sugar Candy. Since there was no time to make this, I ran to the store and grabbed some Wilson brand pre-made cake fondant, while not perfect, it will do in a pinch.
The hive did not have a separator (a box about 4″ tall that allows you to place fondant and medicine packages while allowing bees to move freely) between the top super and inner cover. This being the case, I was advised to place the fondant in the hive and turn the inner cover upside down, which I did. Hopefully this will hold them over until the weather really starts to warm up. I will not be able to get back into the hive until next week, as the weather is still too cold. I have made plans to meet Deb and really get into the hives.