The most exciting new project I started in 2018 is certainly beekeeping! I have been fascinated by the life inside a hive, the life-cycle of these creatures and their habitat. Since October 2017 I have been taking classes with a local beekeepers’ association, and I have been getting my kit together. I made a hive stand for my first three hives, put them together and painted them. I am ready to receive my bees! As a newbie I’ve been trying to determine the breed I’ll work with. I’m still not sure which I prefer, but I will start off following my mentor’s advice and opt for Carniolan bees.
Here in Belgium there are really only three different breeds to choose from. The two most common breeds are the Carniolan bee and the Buckfast. We can obtain purebred Carniolan queens through a couple of organizations who have mating stands on either a Frisian Isle or on a small peninsula. The most common Carnica line found in the Netherlands and in Belgium is the Troiseck line.
Buckfast queens can be obtained through similar organizations, although it is more common to simply buy queens from well-known beekeepers who simply select their own mated queens based on qualities they appreciate. Whether they put their emphasis on productivity or temperament is entirely up to them.
A third, far less common option to go for, is the European Dark Bee, or Black Bee. This is the original variety of honey bee in our area and used to be the only honey bee in the area north of the Pyrenees, throughout the British Isles and Ireland, up to Scandinavia. Its southern border was established by the Alps and the Carniolan habitat, and it spread eastward far into Russia. Today the Black Bee is an endangered species, although in many European countries organizations are trying to save their local Dark Bee. The European Dark Bee can also be found in the USA, where it appears under many names all with a different reputation attached. The German Black Bee for example is known not to be a sweetheart, difficult to handle and very productive.
I won’t be harvesting any honey during my first year, as the Belgian bee-season spans from May to July and I’ll only be receiving my bees halfway June. 2018 will be spent on learning as much as I can from seeing my baby colonies grow into productive, strong honey factories.
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Except for their honey, I’ve never in the past loved bees, but your love for them have succeeded in making me reserve some chunks of love for them too. I can’t wait to see and eat from your babies!!
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Haha, people often think of bees as just mean creatures, but they are the absolute opposite of that! They generally ignore everyone.