The plum tree next to our garage apiary burst into blossom this last week, just as we were putting the finishing touches to seven new hives that we’re putting up in three gardens near our home.
Unfortunately, the wet weather has been making it difficult for the bees in our two existing hives to get out, and I wonder if that old plum tree is going to benefit from all those cooped-up foragers right next door.
This weekend marked a new phase for us. We set up the seven hives in our new friends’ yards, ready to accept the packages of New Zealand bees when they arrive April 11.
These are all expansive yards framed with wild blackberry bushes in an old agricultural area now under pressure from developers. There’s lots of raspberries, blueberries and other bush and tree fruits, along with an amazing array of garden flowers and trees that show promise of lots of nectar and pollen throughout the spring and summer.
We put up two hives at the back of Angela and Vittorio’s long, narrow property. They’re master dahlia growers and much of their three-quarter acre property is given over to growing these beautiful flowers. They propagate and sell tubers, and are known for creating some astonishing varieties, including the ever-popular Vian Vary, which is now finding its way into a few gardening stores.
We put another pair of ives next door, on a similar-sized property owned by Phil and Lisa. Here, much of the area is a lovely manicured lawn. But all around are sources of pollen and nectar, including some healthy blueberry bushes. These hives we put on the south side of an old garden shed where they’ll catch lots of sun and benefit from the heat radiated off the building.
Like the other hives, we’ve geo-located these on a map and have stapled QR codes to the sides to allow us to keep accurate records online with our Beetight.com account.
The last three hives we put down the road on a 1.6-acre property flanked by tall Linden trees and blackberry bushes. Bill and his wife are master gardeners. Breaking up the expansive lawned yard are beds of raspberries, garlic, vegetable patches, blueberries and an astonishing array of plants.
I met Bill while scouting for locations for our new hives. He was on his knees, working the rich and deep soil in one of the beds, but he stopped what he was doing when I approached. We talked about gardening and about the beautiful acreage and when I mentioned we were looking for a place to put several hives he offered his yard.
I guess the lesson here is that you never know where you will find places to put bee hives, and that you don’t find places unless you are willing to ask.
We have no idea how well these new locations will do, but they all appear to have the three key ingredients: access to lots of varied forage, strong southern sun, and nearby water. They also have a bonus: owners that see the value in having bee hives on their property.