Sunday, April 11, 2010
Updates from the busy, buzzing backyard!
Well I have to admit that although spring has sprung here, it has been relatively quiet around my house lately. My honey bees are busy enough; there is a flurry of activity outside of the hive every day although the tree pollens to gather is as close as their front entrance. The state department of environmental health reported the other day that this past week's pollen count was the highest here in seven years. While the bees have been enjoying the weather, I have to say that I haven't. Armed with Claritin to fight the burning eyes and sniffles, I trudge about my routine life while keeping my fingers crossed that my allergies will calm down soon enough.
So the other day I decided to head over to the Virginia location of Dadant. As I've mentioned before, I'm lucky to be just under an hour from the Chatham, Virginia, Dadant warehouse, so if I need something, I can hop in my Xterra and pay them a visit. Plus I needed to return one of the plastic screened bottom boards I bought last year. It had never been used and was in storage all winter, but when I was putting together the components for my second hive, I noticed it was bowed. The hive body wouldn't set even on the bottom board, and because of the large gap in the back, the bees could easily slip out of the rear. So I called Mark Bennett, the manager of the Dadant office in Virginia, and he said he would gladly exchange it for me.
Before I go any further, let me say that although the postal code says Chatham, the Dadant warehouse is actually in a little community called Tightsqueeze, Virginia. No, I am not kidding, its called Tightsqueeze, and stop laughing. Whether its the hardware store, the shopping center or the golf shop, they all share the name of Tightsqueeze. While the name is funny, I have to admit its a beautiful little community that sits in the rolling hills of south-side Virginia. And its just miles north of Danville which was the last capital of the Confederacy just before the end of the American Civil War. Oh, and the reason its called Tightsqueeze? Supposedly it was because of the extremely narrow road between two stores on the path that connected Chatham and Danville many years ago. People would say that the road had a "tight squeeze" (meaning narrow) and it just stuck. And to this very day, people still call the area Tightsqueeze. By the way, even the locals snicker at the name...so don't feel bad.
So I made the trip and Mark gladly exchanged my bottom board for a new one and I also bought a spare hive tool. And knowing that I blog and work in television broadcasting, Mark invited me to come up and make pictures and do interviews on "bee pick-up days" which happens twice this month at Dadant. On April 19th and 26th, Dadant gets shipments of bees for eager beekeepers who want to either broaden or replace their colonies. If I'm not mistaken, Mark said that each shipment will include 300 cages of bees that people have pre-ordered and already paid for, and they will make the trip to Tightsqueeze to pick up their new charges. But Mark warned me that bee pick-up days are madness, and he said it is hard to get close to the building for routine business. I definitely want to go up and make pictures and be a part of the thrill, but the problem is that both days fall on Monday, and that is the most hectic day in my work week. But if I have time to ride up with cameras, I'll do it. I have a feeling the air will be buzzing with lots of excitement that day!
By the way, I have some upcoming posts that may interest some of you. One is about the ApiLife-Var, the all-natural remedy for varroa mites. I've done some reseach and you won't believe what I found. Not bad mind you, but I believe you could save yourself a lot of money by just running down to the health and beauty section at Walmart instead of ordering ApiLife which is expensive. And another post will be about the pending split of my current colony. My colony is doing well and it will be time to split soon, but I have to get a new queen to make it happen. I have one ordered from Busy Bee Apiary in Chapel Hill, but if that falls through, my friend Jared Watkins, who is helping a beekeeper with his queen rearing in nearby Winston Salem, has offered to get one for me if necessary.
More later! Until next time, enjoy your spring!