Saturday, May 21, 2016


Blue Mountain Land Trust--Learning on the Land

Yes, it's time again for the summer series of BMLT's Learning on the Land. In todays' session participants learned from local bee-keeper/hobbyist Paul Tomkins about how to start and maintain your own backyard colony of bees.

Bee-ing up close and personal, Paul is a hands-on kinda guy when it comes to bees and rarely uses gloves or a bee suit when handling his bees of the strain apis mellifera.

In this hive configuration known as a Langstroth hive, the larger bottom box is the deep super or brooder box. This is where the bees live.

A medium super sits on top and is where the extra honey not used by the bees themselves will be made and stored in frames 8-10 to a box. Medium or shallow supers can be stacked one atop the other depending upon the anticipated volume of nectar flow.

According to Paul, two hives is best for a beginning backyard beekeeper. The stones on top act as weights to keep the lids from flying off in a wind storm. Ideally, hives should be located away from the wind, but sometimes conditions cannot be perfect.

 In preparation of opening a hive, Paul gets his smoker going using dried grass or leaves.

Today's Learning on the Land session included two families with children. Here Oscar donned in the beekeeper veil helps Paul smoke the bees. The smoke sends a "fire alert" to the bees which brings them back to the hive to gorge on honey while also subduing them. As noted, Paul is sans gloves, veil, or suit and instead works slowly and quietly among his hives so as not to rile the bees.

Showing no fear, another youngster enjoys serving as a bee landing strip.