How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My First Split!


This is a picture of a sting through my gloves.  I have gotten several stings through my gloves.  My gloves are made from lambskin and are very comfortable and easy to work my top bars, but obviously that allows stings to go through.  This was during my splits.  There are several ways to split a hive. I am planning on doing what is called a walkway split.  That is where you take the queen and move her into the new hives and allow the old hive to make a new queen.   My hives hold about 23 top bars and they were full of bees to the point that they were overflowing.  I was very afraid that they were going to swarm.  I have been trying to keep the brood nest open and give the queen enough room to lay.  Well, she has laid throughout the TBH.  She has even laid drone in the honeycomb area. The problem with TBH is that you cannot move up like you do in a Langstroth.  You could if you put a super on top, but I didn’t want to do that yet.  My TBH are only about 38 inches long.  The new hives that we built are 46 inches long and hold about 30 top bars.  This will give me more room and the queen more room to lay.   When a queen has no more room to lay eggs, and the hive is very populated, and she is laying drone, this is time to make sure there is enough room in your hive otherwise it will swarm.   This is why I needed to build the TBH.   The splits didn’t go as smoothly as I expected.  The hives, although beautiful, were not as wide as the hives that I got from Sam Comfort.  I used Les Crowder’s TBH plans.  Since my husband and neighbor didn’t know exactly what I was planning on doing, they didn’t realize that the new hives should have been the exact same width as the original.  Therefore, when I went to move the first comb it didn’t fit into the new hives.  I had to cut about an inch of comb off the bottom of each top bar that I transferred to the new hives.  This really wasn’t what I wanted to do.  I was unsure and nervous about doing my first split to begin with.  This just made it feel even more difficult.  Despite being stressed over my mistake, the splits actually went very well.  I transferred 3 bars of brood and 2 bars of honey and pollen into each split.  Found the queen and transferred her into each hive.  I brushed several bars of nurse bees into the new hives.  Now I just have to watch and wait and hope that the old hives will make a new queen, and that old queens will do well in their new hives.  Even after doing the splits I think I should have split more, but considering the top bars didn’t fit I really didn’t want to disrupt the bees any more than I already did.  I think the only solution, is to build them again.    Oh the perils of a new beekeeper!!



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