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, August 30, 2012

The Saga Continues Again.....

As I talked about in my last post I have decided to re-queen my hive when I make my divide.

After my bees stung the yard guy and the pool guy I decided to re-queen my hive with a nice Italian queen. It was perfect timing because I made a very nice split from hive number one today. I was able to take 12 bars of honey, nectar, and different stages of brood. It is important when splitting a hive so late in the season to make sure that it is large enough with enough pollen, nectar, and honey stores to sustain the winter. Although in Florida we are lucky because we don't have very hard winters. Sometimes we don't have winter at all!! Soon we should have a very good nectar flow happening again when the Brazilian Pepper starts to bloom.

I wanted to do this divide and experiment to see if I notice a change in temperament with this new queen. Italian queens are supposed to be very gentle, good honey producers, although more prone to robbing. I should know in about three weeks or so. Hopefully the hive will accept the new queen well. I have never ordered a queen before. I usually allow my hives to re-queen themselves. I have mixed feelings about buying a queen that isn’t local. Allowing the hive to re- queen itself is actually better to do because the queen mates with feral or local drones. A nice feral hive is more resistant to disease and more acclimated to our local environment. The down side to this is that the hive may have some AHB within their genetics. There is supposedly a greater population of AHB south of I-4, according to Dr. Kerns from the University of Florida. That has been my concern when working the hives, especially since they have been eliciting such aggressive behavior. Since this is my first year as a Florida beekeeper, I am not sure if all bee colonies become aggressive when they are queenless, but I know mine do and I cannot risk the safety of others.

I had never installed a queen into my hives before. Inese and I decided to cut a little area out of the comb with enough room on top for the bees to eat the candy and release the queen. Hopefully that will work well. My bees looked very interested in the new queen. I will be out of town for the next few days moving my youngest son into a new apartment as he is starting his second year of college. This distraction is good, otherwise I would be watching the hive like a hawk and hoping all is going well. It is important to leave the hive alone for at least 5-7 days after installing a new queen. When I return I will go back into the hive to see if they accepted the new queen. I hope so, she looked like a very nice queen.

With this split I will now have 5 TBHs. Not bad for the first year of beekeeping!!

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