Springing into Action: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Preparing Astor Apiaries for Bee Season
Spring is just around the corner, and here at Astor Apiaries, we're busy getting ready for the upcoming bee season. As an urban apiary, we have multiple locations to manage, and preparing for spring is a crucial part of ensuring a successful season. In this blog post, we'll take you through the various tasks we undertake to prepare for spring, from planning out the season to hosting public events.
Planning Out the Season
One of the first things we do to prepare for spring is to plan out the season. This involves making sure that we have enough equipment at all of our apiaries and ordering what we need if we don't. We also need to make sure that we have enough beekeepers to cover all of the locations. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, we create a loose schedule for the entire season, which helps us stay on track and on top of our hives.
We also coordinate with our clients and host sites to make sure that we are able to set ourselves up for a successful season. This involves discussing how we can improve the site or changes we can make to make everyone happy, including the bees. We take into account various factors, such as the availability of nectar and pollen sources, activities happening around the hives, how our host sites can get the most out of the hives, and of course the health of the bees.
We also do a lot of beekeeping services for people and organizations around the city so we make sure that our Mentorship Clients and and other beekeepers who require a House Call visit from us have the time they need on our calendar.
Checking on Our Bees
Another important aspect of getting ready for the bee season is checking on our surviving hives from the winter. Winter can be a difficult time for bees, and many hives may not survive the cold and harsh weather. It's important to check on these hives to make sure they're healthy and thriving as the new season begins.
Firstly, we'll need to inspect the hives to make sure the queen is alive and laying eggs. If the queen is dead or not laying properly, we'll need to replace her with a new queen or merge the hive with another healthy colony. We'll also need to check the amount of brood, which is the young bees developing in the comb. The brood is an important indicator of hive health, as a healthy colony will have a consistent amount of brood in various stages of development.
We'll check the overall health of the bees. This involves checking for signs of disease or pest infestations, such as Varroa mites or foulbrood. If any issues are detected, we'll need to take appropriate measures to address the problem early.
Another important aspect of checking on our surviving hives is making sure they have enough food. Bees need a steady supply of pollen and nectar to thrive, and it's important to make sure they have access to enough food sources. The end of winter is a critical time for colonies as they are reaching the end of their stored food. If necessary, we'll need to supplement their diet with sugar syrup or other food sources until the first spring flowers begin to bloom.
Cleaning and Repairing Old Hive Equipment
Another big task is to clean and repair old hive equipment. This is a crucial step in preparing for spring because it ensures that our equipment is in good working order. To start, we scrape out excess beeswax comb and propolis and clean out any dirt or debris from last season. This helps us ensure that the bees have a clean and healthy environment to live in.
Next, we visually inspect all of the used equipment to ensure that there are no signs of disease or other issues. If there is any doubt, we discard the equipment. If any of the wooden equipment is too badly broken or rotten, we replace it. We take this step seriously because it's essential for the health and well-being of the bees, as well as the safety and care of the honey that you may eventually be consuming. It's important to keep things clean!
Building and Painting New Hive Equipment
Painting the hive boxes is important because it helps to prolong their lifespan and also gives them a fresh look. We usually paint all of the boxes white, but we also paint some of them in our signature blue color. This helps the bees identify their hive among many and also makes our apiaries stand out.
Finally, we prepare for public events, such as our "Meet the Bees" hive tours, speaking engagements, and other events. Our tours in Forest Hills and Green-Wood Cemetery are a great way for people to get up close and learn more about bees and beekeeping, and they are always popular. To prepare for these events, we make sure that we have enough staff on hand to answer questions and give tours. We also ensure that our equipment is in good working order, and that our bees are healthy and happy.
In addition to hive tours, we also participate in craft fairs and markets where we sell honey in-person. These events are a great way to connect with our customers and share our passion for beekeeping. We also teach classes throughout the year, which cover a range of topics, from the basics of beekeeping to more advanced techniques. As we schedule events, you can find them all on our Events Calendar.
Getting ready for the bee season is a comprehensive process that involves everything from equipment maintenance to bee health to team training to public events. At Astor Apiaries, we take great care to ensure that we are fully prepared for the season ahead, so that our bees and our customers can enjoy a successful and fulfilling season. I hope that gives you a little insight into some of the work that goes on here at the apiary.