Category Archives: Beekeeping

Weekend Swarm

What a weekend at the urban homestead! It reminds me of a book I read called, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers.

We started the weekend excited about getting a new barn shed that we plan to use as a woodshop. After several months of dreaming of having more space, we started looking at the quick sheds for sale at The Home Depot and Lowes. These seemed expensive after realizing windows and doors are “add-on’s” and it was hard to understand what the process was going to be to actually get one installed on our property. I also read many blogs and pinterest posts about building our own shed, but that seemed like too much work for our family. One day, while riding along as a passenger, I saw a company called “A Structure for Life” along the freeway.  Their property had several sheds and small barn structures as displays.  I immediately google searched and couldn’t find them.

I am not easily defeated…I drove in the general direction and found their location the next weekend.  Unfortunately, they are only open by appointment. I called their number and left a voicemail. After two voicemails, I received a call back.  I set up an appointment for the next available weekend to view the example structures. I would have to wait two weeks because they would not be open on Memorial Day Weekend.

When we met the owner, he was very nice. He had his toddler daughter with him. He answered all of our questions and showed us many samples. We ended up with a 12′ x 16′ shed that looks like a barn. The company is booked until July, so we will be waiting more before it arrives. I’m learning that waiting gives me time to prepare myself.  In this case, we need to knock down lots of blackberry bushes, get a stump grinder and empty the old moldy shed to prepare a space for our new shed.

The next day we started to tackle the blackberry bushes with the help of family and their very strong weed whacker and an electric chainsaw. After a long day of work, we sat on the patio to relax and quickly realized the air was full of bees! We watched with worry that our bees were leaving us.  Our hive appeared to have lots of bees still coming and going as usual, so we hoped it was just the hive splitting because it had grown too large.

The bees made their way to our neighbors back yard. As we watched, we could hear them closing their windows and doors.  The bees were very interested in their crab-apple tree. They started forming a large clump.  This is just what I had read about!

My husband suited up and I ran to the store to buy a second hive.  This could be our chance to have two hives. When I got back, we got all the bees we could into our new hive.

After all this excitement, my heart was racing.  I wasn’t afraid of the bees but the thought of losing the bees made me very sad.  We didn’t know if we had the queen or not. The bees were leaving the new hive.  There was nothing we could do, so we went out for Mexican food.

When we returned the new hive was empty, but at least the old hive was still busy. We saw the bees were back in the neighbors tree. so we went and got them again. The were the hive in the morning when we woke up.  I hope they will be there when I get home.




Beginner Bee Keeping

I think I received the best Valentine’s Day gift I could imagine. My husband says I’m difficult to buy gifts for but I don’t understand why. I am not a romantic and I definitely didn’t want a box of chocolates! So for my gift, I received honey bees.

Ok, well its not exactly like I unwrapped a box of bees…let me explain.

There are many steps to starting a honey bee hive.  For Valentine’s Day my husband ordered bees for me and bought me a bee starter kit.  I would have to wait until April to actually get my bees.  This turned out great because I spent the next two months learning everything I could about bees.

I researched the city rules to determine if I could have bees on my property and where. I found the local bee keepers association which was a wealth of information.

I read many blog posts and urban homesteading books. My favorite site is The family keeps bees and shares their many uses for the bees wax as well as the honey.

I also attended a free clinic at Coastal Farm & Supply Store. I learned so much at this class and was able to ask questions.  I also won lots of free gifts in their door prize raffle…(hint, bring the kids to get more raffle tickets!)

After all of the research, I discovered I didn’t have enough supplies.  As with any new hobby, the upfront costs can add up.  Although I had the started kit, I realized I needed additional hive boxes. I ordered two additional 10-Frame Assembled Painted Hive Kits from Amazon.

Finally, we received the notice that our bees had arrived at Coastal!

Here you can see the 5-Frame Nuc box frames that were inserted into the brand new hive box.

Here I am holding the inner hive lid. I left the bees alone for nearly one month before peeking into the hive. When I saw the bees started making honey comb on the lid, so I knew it was time to add my second hive box.

Thank you for reading. Please leave comments and let me know if you have any questions or advice for me.