Honeybees at a hive in Racine, MN

With a blog named Snowshoe Bees, you would think I could be writing more about bees.  I looked back through the blog posts for the last year or so, and I found I wrote a couple entries about bees or mentioned bees in some sort of anecdotal fashion.  There was the entry, from October 11, 2012, on Disruptive Forces and the situation of the beekeepers I know in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  They had been working for a very long time to keep bees that were free of varroa mites.  I have been tacitly following their trials and deals with the newly arrived varroa this season.

That would appear to be the last time I wrote about bees.

I am actually actively managing bees, again, this year.  Last year was sort of a loss for keeping and managing them.  At the end of last season, we did manage to pull about seven gallons of honey, but this was after basically having zero contact with the hives from early May until late October.  Melissa came with when we pulled the honey boxes last fall; she was terrified – the bees were extremely angry.  The bees had been without human interaction for much of the year.  This year, I am able to check them more often as we have them much closer than north of Duluth, as it was last year.  We are running eight hives this years.  They are split evenly between St. Paul – these are located at the back of our property in the woods – and Racine, MN – these are located on a farm owned by friends of ours.

It was sometime in late April, I think, I headed to Duluth to retrieve gear that had been left there after we pulled honey boxes last fall.  The winter in Duluth was quite hard on the bees there.  Of the six or so hives we left for overwintering, only one appears to have survived – and that one is likely the remnants of the one that actually made it through winter but swarmed during the spring.  I suspect it is the result of a swarming because the hive the bees were residing in was empty last fall.  I fill our Dodge van with as much gear as possible; upon leaving the New Scenic Café after lunch with my parents, my dad commented on amount and weight of bee-stuff in the van, “your tires don’t look too happy.”

We headed to Racine, MN, this weekend to check the hives and add the first honey boxes.  The bees were busy doing their thing, and really could not have cared less that I was poking around in their homes.  With only a small bit of rearranging of brood frames in each hive, and I was able to get the honey boxes on all four hives within a matter of minutes.  I have yet to put honey boxes on the hives here in St. Paul.

As a nerdy-side-note, when I look at the black and white photo of the bee smoker (above), I cannot help but think of the Computer Graphics course I took as a undergraduate in the early 2000s.  Why?  The reflection in the curved top.  It brings back memories of trying implement reflection in a ray tracer written in C++ running on Sun Solaris 8.  Those were the days.