And thus it actually begins, newbee with bees

Did you know that depending on where they get their nectar, the honey will look and taste different?

As I’ve explained in my first post about these wonderful little creatures, it’s only been a few weeks since me and my buddy decided on becoming beekeepers ourselves.

As per usual, my motus operandi doesn’t consist of “Let’s think this through” but more of “Oh yeah cool, let’s go!”

Usually this just means me buying something I don’t really need but just want, because in general I’m too lazy to start new hobbies. But as I said before, I like bees, and here we are.

As I said in my last post, I got myself a Simplex hive. I gave it a nice little ground layer and then painted it blue. Why blue? Well, from what I’ve been told, bees tend to have a very good sense of direction, but colouring their hive actually helps them a bit. Bees can see white, blue and yellow the best. And seeing that I like the colour blue, it was an easy decision to make.

After clearing the land and setting up the hive there was only one more thing to do. And that’s getting the bees there.

Last Monday after I had levelled the hive to my liking, had it in the correct spot and everything, I told the guy who was getting me the bees that everything was ready. At the time I figured that he’d just tell me he’d do it on of the next few days seeing that it was already getting closer to the evening, but no. He sent me the text that he could do it that day and if I could make it between 20:00 and 21:00.

Kind of perfectly balanced, as all things should be

I obviously said yes, because this was what I had been preparing for in the past couple of weeks, to finally have bees!

When the time was nearing 20:00 I took a quick shower, because I had been working up a sweat. And I had read that bees hate smells.
They don’t like the smell of sweat, dirt, gasoline etc etc. So best to take a shower as to not aggravate them. Jeans, shirt and shoes on and let’s go! Off to where they shall go.

I arrived right behind him, talk about timing.

The thing I find fun is the fact that hobby beekeepers just tape up a hive and put it in their car. They literally just pick it up and then go to wherever they need to go while they have thousands of bees in the back of their car.

Today was the same, he opened up the back and there was the hive, the little nucleus. 11 frames of bees, buzzing away as they couldn’t leave for now.

We took a wheelbarrow and made our way to the spot. I had put on my gear and my sister, wanting to see this happen too, joined us. She used my phone to make a few recordings from a safe distance.

A safe distance that soon became clear she didn’t really need to keep since the bees are not aggressive creatures at all. They’ll get mad if you steal their honey or provoke them, but in general they are quite docile.

Looking at the frames

A fun little thing with this is that the beekeeper was wearing gloves, I was not. I have them, but I didn’t use them. At one point one of the frames was unable to correctly go in so I took it upon myself to correct this. While there were a few thousand bees in the box already. But hey, look at me being fearless. Or you know, just mindless since at the time I didn’t even think about it. My thoughts were just “ok this needs to be fixed lets go”

I knew there was a beekeeper hidden in me

After about half an hour the deal was done, the bees had moved into their new permanent home and I could finally call myself a beekeeper.

In the next few months, I’ll be learning more about them but in general it won’t be that much work. The bees need to be prepared for winter, which I will do by feeding them about 10liter of sugar water in the next couple of months. But other than that, they will be able to go on their buzzy little lives.

Sugar-water being poured into the feeder. The bees can enter via their hive and are unable to drown in it due to added safety measures. They can take sips though

I will obviously go and look at them as much as possible, my plan is to open the hive once a week, just to have a little look and become more familiar with everything.

Booties go up! These little girls are spreading the queen’s pheromones to tell the rest that the queen is inside

My buddy will be joining me, as he will get his own little colony soon. Well, he already has one, but one of his own, one that we shall be taking care of together.

The only small issue is that he has a Langstroth hive and I have a Belgian Simplex one. The reason why this is an issue is because due to the difference of the hives, it would make it harder on both of us if something goes wrong.
New beekeepers are always told to start with at least two hives. The reason for this is that if something goes wrong with one hive, you can always use the other hive to fix things. But since they won’t be doing much now, I should be fine with the one hive.

I already have a plan in the back of my mind to split this hive when the bee season starts next year. And then boom! I’ll have two hives.

My buddy’s hive is a cool one though, it’s called a Flow hive.

Painted and ready to go too! He chose yellow

For some reason it gets a lot of flack by the beekeeping community, but I think that’s because when it first came on Kickstarter they marketed it in a way that you supposedly put the flow hive in the backyard and you’ll have honey on tap.

And that’s not how it works, you have to take care of your bees or they will die. There are so many threats in this day and age that they need constant care. Mites, pesticides, infections and other insects mean that you can’t just NOT look at your bees.

But the Flow hive is super cool and supposedly makes it super easy to collect your honey. Unfortunately, it’s a Langstroth hive, so his frames will be different than mine. But I’m sure that we’ll figure something out eventually. There’s always a way.

And if I’m going to be honest, if things go well, I might just get one of those myself in a year or two.

But that will only happen if I can keep my current ones alive and get through the first year!

Stay tuned o7

Beekeeping a small history, and then there’s me

Bees have been kept throughout the centuries. There are cave paintings in Spain out there from thousands of years ago that shows people on a rope trying to get to that sweet sticky stuff we call honey.

Ancient mural
Source: Planet bee

It was the ancient Egyptians themselves that were the first to keep bees themselves in a kind of clay hive.

The sacred bee
Source: Planet bee

And even Aristotle wrote about them, although he didn’t quite know what he was talking about, parts of what he said were in a sense correct, others not so much.

‘The honeycomb is made from flowers and the materials for the wax they gather from the resinous gum of trees, while honey is distilled from dew and is deposited chiefly at the raisings of the constellations or when a rainbow is in the sky’

Not only that, but according to him bee babies grew on trees. I guess that would make sense if you see a hive in a tree and look at the brood comb hatch. But not quite how it actually works, then again this was written between 344 and 342 BC, so I guess he had a good excuse.

In the late 18th century, a Swiss beekeeper by the name of François Huber made a pioneering work that had taken him over 20 years of observation to make. Helped by his assistant because of his blindness. He established the mating process and the fact that the bees kept a bit of space between their comb in order to make moving around easier. He also produced the “folio” or “leaf” hive, but this was more to make it easier to look at the bees since you couldn’t remove the comb, so there was no way to get the honey.

The person that made beekeeping easier was a priest from Pennsylvania called Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth. He calculated the width which bees would need in order to move around easily without filling it all up. If the space was too small, they would fill it with propolis, their way of making insulation. If it was too big, they’d fill it with wax comb.

After he established this, he designed wooden frames that could be removed without breaking up the internal structure, he literally came up with the first moveable beehive. His design, the Langstroth, is to this day still one of the most commonly used hive by beekeepers around the world. There are others of course and I’ll talk about them maybe at some point in time, but this is nice to know.

The langstroth hive

And now, there’s me, a new beekeeper, a newBEE, someone who knows stuff because he’s read about it and watched a bunch of youtube videos. If the ancient Egyptians, Greek, Romans all did it. Why shouldn’t I, right? Right?!

The hive I picked is similar in design as the Langstroth but due to the fact that here in Belgium and the Netherlands most beekeepers use a slightly different design, I decided to go for a Simplex. This one is based on a hive designed from the 1890s in England that was supposed to be a bit nicer on the bees than a Langstroth. The thing with these is that I honestly can’t really see the difference versus a Langstroth, I think my frames are a bit different? And the size of the brood box and the honey super? If I’m not mistaken it was mostly because it was thicker and therefor a bit more insulated.

But the concept is the same as Langstroth, and at some point, I too will probably go for a Langstroth hive.

But for now, I have a Belgium Simplex one, purely because it would make my life easier in order to get bees in there.

And it was quite easy.

As you may know, dear reader, I have been spending the past few weeks getting ready for the moment of their arrival.

The past Saturday I spent most of my morning putting down the finishing touches, clearing a bunch more brambles and other annoyances.

Before and after of where the hive will go

Yesterday I even set up the hive in the spot where it needed to go.

It doesn’t look great, but it works

I’m not the handiest of people when it comes to anything really. So it took me more effort than I am willing to admit to in order to get this setup correctly. Mind you, the hive needs to be level from side to side and a little incline so that water and condensation can get out. Water out from the top, and condensation from inside. So it needed to be, somewhat “perfect”. It doesn’t look it, but it is to me

And because the weather was nice and it was the perfect time for it, got the bees in it too.

But that last bit, is for another post, since I’m rambling on enough as is.

The actual adventure, starts now.

Stay tuned o7

Myths and how the bee got her sting

Did you know that bees were around for more than one hundred million years, whereas we as a species (homo sapiens), have only been around for about 100 000 of it?

It is only fair then that the bee has a place in myth too.

In this particular case the Greek myths, as told by Stephen Fry at least. You see dear reader, from time to time I do some reading too, and friends always go on and on about how nice it is to listen to audio-books instead of reading them themselves.
Because I’ve been meaning to read the book Mythos, after seeing him do a bit of it on the Graham Norton show. I decided that what better way to start with audio-books, than with Greek creation.

And disappoint it does not, obviously as is the case with many myths, the author has a bit of leeway, and can make their own spin on it. I enjoyed the whole book but since I always liked bees, the one about the bee and her sting was quite nice.

In this particular story, it’s Zeus and Hera’s wedding, a wedding anticipated by all the gods. Other than it being the first wedding in all time, there was also a bit of competition added to it.

Whomever that could come up with the most interesting and original wedding dish, could ask Zeus for a favour, a wish as it were.
As things were at the time, everyone was quite excited about this, and thus creatures and gods of all kinds had prepared something for the banquet.
There were salty dishes, sweet ones, bitter, sour and savoury. They tasted many dishes until they came across a tiny amphora, a vase as it were, you can think of it as a small as a thimble, made by a creature called Melissa.
It was filled all the way to the top with a sticky and sweet-smelling goo, which Zeus thought was pine resin as he stuck his finger in it.

After tasting it Zeus knew that it was nothing like he had ever tasted before. “Something new, gloopy without being unguent, slow-mowing without being stodgy, sweet without being cloying and perfumed with a flavour that drove the senses wild with pleasure.” Melissa’s name for it was Honey.

When Hera took a spoonful and tasted it “it seemed as if the loveliest meadows and mountain herbs danced along the back or her mouth”

Both Hera and Zeus knew at this point that honey took first place.

Melissa went up to Zeus, she was very small but looked even smaller while hovering near Zeus’ head. I’m sure you have your own image of Zeus in mind, mine usually comes with that of the Disney’s Hercules one. So, I just imagine him, with a bee next to his face.

For those who don’t know who I’m talking about
source: Disney

She buzzed to him “Great lord, I am pleased that you like my delicacy. But I must tell you that it is quite extraordinary hard to make. I have to zoom from flower to flower to collect the nectar deep inside. Only the smallest amount can be sucked out and carried. All day, for as long as Ether grants me light to see by, I must sip search and return to the nest. Often traveling huge distances, even then at days end I will only have the tiniest possible amount of nectar to convert, into the confection that has so pleased you. This little amphora took me four and a half weeks to fill, so you can see that this is a most labour-intensive business.

The smell of honey is so intense, so ravishing that many come to raid my nest. They do so with impunity, for I am small, and all I can do is buzz angrily at them.

Imagine, a whole week’s work can be lost with one swipe of a weasel’s paw, or one lick of a bear cubs’ tongue.

Only let me have a weapon, your majesty. You have equipped the scorpion with a deadly sting, and the snake a venomous bite.

Give me, great Zeus, such a weapon, a fatal one! That will kill any who dare to steal my precious stock of honey.”

As is normal in these myths, Zeus obviously did not like this request, he had no patience with self-pity, how dare this tiny creature demand a mortal sting. He decided to show her the folly of such a request. “How dare you demand such monstrous a prize. A talent like yours should be shared out, not jealously hoarded.” Unfortunately for her, Melissa couldn’t keep her mouth shut and expressed her annoyance at him, He had given His word, she was supposed to get whatever she wished for.

At this point dark clouds had gathered and Zeus looked angrily at the small flying creature in front of him, stating that he said they could ASK him a favour, not that he would grant it.

Zeus and melissa

“From this moment forward, the gathering of your honey will be made easier. By my decree you shall not labour alone. You will be queen of a whole colony, a whole swarm of productive subjects. Furthermore, I SHALL grant you a fatal and painful sting.”

At this point Melissa’s wings piqued up perkily “But!” Zeus continued “While it will bring a sharp pain to the one you sting. It is to you and your kind that it will bring death. So let it be!”

At this point the sky cleared up and Melissa felt something within her, looking down she saw something long, thin and sharp pushing its way out of her abdomen. It looked somewhat like a lance, a needle as it were, with barbs on the end of it.

Melissa is even still part of the scientific name for the honey bee ‘Apis mellifera’, in Greek Melissa means bee, which in turn Meli does honey.
Here in Belgium, we even used to have a park called “Meli Park” now that will make whomever is from around here feel old because it shut down back in 1999.

I know I went there a couple of times, but that’s about it

A little thing that is “wrong” as it were about this myth though, is that in the way Stephen Fry talks about the myth, Melissa as the queen also got a barbed sting.

But the queen bee as we know them doesn’t actually have a barbed sting. She can sting as many times as she wants, not that she ever does, queens are quite docile. Usually at least. When a virgin queen bee emerges, she goes out to seek out the other virgin queens and tries to kill them by stinging them. When she’s the only one left she’ll mate and begin laying eggs. A mated queen doesn’t usually leave the laying chamber and won’t sting again. I’m sure that there are beekeepers out there that have provoked their queen in such a way to feel the stinger. Or not, I’m not sure, that’s something to look up.

But there we have it dear reader, a bit of myth for you as we go into the weekend.

Today I’m putting the last layer of paint on the hive, so hopefully by the next time I write, I’ll have set it up and have bees in it.

Stay tuned o7

This blog adapts parts of Mythos by Stephen Fry, go grab it, it is well worth your time.

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success

Did you know that male bees (also called drones) only have on purpose? They only live to mate with a virgin queen in order to have somewhat of a genetic diversity in hives. This because a virgin queen mates with multiple drones from multiple colonies in what is called a drone congregation area.
Oh, and their penis explodes after mating.

Welcome back to my blog dear reader, in which I shall take you along on my journey, be they in beekeeping, or gaming, or whatever I feel like writing about.

We are in for a treat this week; it’s going to be about 40 degrees Celsius tomorrow and it’s about 34 right now. Meaning that I myself, will be huffing and puffing about being too warm. That being said, if I’m not mistaken most people in Europe will be experiencing this heat wave, so make sure to drink well and keep your pets well hydrated too! People tend to forget that the warmth can kill just as well as the cold.

My beekeeping gear finally arrived on Saturday after having ordered in on Monday. It should have arrived on Wednesday but it didn’t, then on Friday they said they’d deliver it and they didn’t. Even Saturday I thought “It won’t be here today” but it did, although it was quite late.

The plan had been to put a ground layer of paint on the hive on Saturday morning and then the actual paint on Sunday morning. Morning mostly because I really, really don’t want to be outside when it’s too hot. And too hot for me basically means everything above 24 degrees Celsius.

Unfortunately, that plan failed, so I put the first layer on the hive yesterday. The actual painting will probably happen Thursday since it’ll be raining on Wednesday and super hotness today and tomorrow.

It’s not much, but it’s a start

But whatever! It’ll get done eventually; I don’t have bees yet so I have some extra time.

Saturday morning was also spent with me and my buddy clearing some space in the field I talked about in my previous post.

We spent roughly three and a half hours cutting away brambles, trees and such to make a little bit of a clearing. And it’s looking mighty fine. I should probably make a few new drone (the controlled flying one, not the male bee) shots there so I can show a comparison, I will probably do that one of these days too.

Looking a lot better than before

As I said the plan was to also do some painting etc so we could prepare a bit more but alas. We weren’t even able to test the hive yet because at that point it had not yet arrived. We worked from around 9:00 till 12:30 and the gear only arrived around 19:45.

The hive, smoker and gloves

But oh well, it’s here, the clearing has been made, now to go get some bees!

Another hiccup there. I had reserved a colony and their queen online, but the person I was going to collect them from let me know that the queen had gone missing. Chances are that she had left the building because the box they were in was a bit too tiny. They usually tend to make a new queen and the old one up and disappears. If a new queen hatches it can take up to 3 weeks before she starts laying eggs at a good speed. Which would slow down the whole “getting them ready for winter” bit.

So now I either have to wait for the person to get a new hive ready for me, or find someone else to get me bees. I have contacted a few beekeepers, so we’ll see how that ends.

Stay tuned o7

The beginnings of a “newbee”

Did you know that bees take care of approximately 30% of our food? Neither did I, the more you know.

About a week ago from this writing I decided that I wanted to become a beekeeper. The other day my equipment arrived.

‘But’ you ask yourself, why on earth would you make a decision like that so fast.

Well! Let me tell you a little story of how this came to pass.

A couple of years ago I first started hearing about the whole “bees are dying” thing and that we need to help the bees more. I read that there were beekeepers out there that if you pay them a little bit for a hive setup, they would LOVE to use your land to keep their bees. So I set out to find someone that could do this for me, seeing that where my parents live there was a huge swat of farmland we don’t actually use so that seemed perfect.

Easier said than done though, most of these kinds of beekeepers would rather do this with a company that is able to pay a little bit more and give them some exposure for more potential clients.

As I’ve already kind of explained in my previous post.

About a year ago a friend of mine had finally finished building his house, and knowing what I wanted to do he was like “well lets just put it on my company, have them do it in our backyard and boom”

We found a beekeeper who does this for a living, “renting” out his hive, bees and skills for a monthly fee. He comes to take care of them and you have bees in your garden that you can watch and relax with. And by the end of the season, you’ll even get the honey they harvested.

Sounded awesome so we did it!

Now we’re a year later and despite it being a very cool thing, it was a bit expensive. We were paying about 80/month for this. So, what’s the next step to take when you want something but don’t want to keep paying for it?

You do it yourself!

And thus, my new little adventure started, I bought myself a book “Beekeeping for dummies” and within 2 days I have become an expert!

The joys of youtube!

That’s a big fat lie of course, I am nowhere near being an expert on this subject but at least I know more now. I’ve watched countless movies and I was thinking to myself “Yeah this seems fairly easy I’ll give it a go”

One more day and everything was ordered and I even found a local guy that was willing to sell me a colony, including a small 6 frame “hive”.

In a couple days I will be going to collect them and start my little adventure.

Tomorrow I am going to take a brush cutter and a chainsaw along with my buddy and clear a bit of land so that I have place to actually put the bees, because the land is a bit of a forest right now.

This used to be a potato field, now it’s brambles and trees

I’ll also be painting the hive, I ordered paint for the outside of it and a thing called Propoleum, which exists of 70% alcohol and 30% propolis, for the outside. The paint is obviously all natural so that the bees won’t get any effect from it, and the propoleum on the inside will make it easier for them to isolate their hive.
Yes, they isolate their hive, bees are incredible little creatures and I shall try and take you along on my adventures with them!

The first steps of which is taking those 6 frames and bringing them in the new one I ordered, feeding the bees and then making sure that they have enough to survive the winter.

Aren’t they the cutest?

Sounds easy enough, but as a newbee (see what I did there) the challenge is there.

But I’m super excited about it! A new hobby! We’ll see what happens

Stay tuned

I’m still alive!

Hello dear reader!

It has almost literally been six whole months since I last made a post, I’m still alive! I just don’t have much to talk about really. Not when it comes to EvE Online at least.

I still play the game, I log in at least once, usually twice a week, but other than doing a wormhole fleet I don’t really do much. I don’t have any need for ISK so I don’t have to rat or play the market and let’s be fair, I play a LOT of other games a LOT more.

So! I have decided that this blog will no longer be just about EvE, but whatever I want to write about.

Let’s start talking about gaming though. I still game, a LOT, more than I should probably but to this day it is the only hobby I have. Sure, I try and be healthy by going for bike rides, even bought myself a rowing machine etc, but it’s not like I see that as a hobby. I see that stuff more as a means to an end. The end being “not being a fatass”. Spoiler alert: it’s not really working 😊

In February a new MMO came out here in the West, one that had already been released for a couple of years over in Korea. Those of you that know, know that it’s Lost Ark. Let’s just say that I got a bit addicted to this game. I have put hundreds of hours in it since February, mostly I think because of MMO starvation.

That thing that all of us that play MMO’s know well; You want to play an MMO but you don’t really want to play the ones you already have but you also don’t know any good ones you haven’t tried out yet. So a new one comes along, it does most of the things right that you were looking for et voila, you’re hooked. At least for a while, until you burn out of this new mmo or the endgame isn’t there etc etc.

As you can see, I’ve put in a few hours

The fact that Lost Ark is an MMO marketed for the Asian market, means that it’s super grindy. Because for some reason people east of us really, really love to grind. There’s a lot of daily stuff you can do, a bunch of things that reset each week etc etc. Because of the way the game plays you basically have a main character and a bunch of alts with which you will have to do all those daily things in order to move the materials you gain to your main. This can be very daunting for a new player, and even for those that are used to MMOs.

In the beginning I applauded this because I am an altoholic, I really love making alts, playing them and gearing them. Unfortunately, in Lost Ark gearing all of your alts towards the same item level is very hard and very very grindy if not even impossible unless you spend a shitload of time in it.

I have, and I only have two characters at a high enough item level to do the new raids. I haven’t even done the newest one because it’s so damn hard with pickup groups.

But yeah, that’s one of the games I’ve been playing a lot. The other one I pickup up again recently is elder scrolls online.

They had a new expansion out and I figured “why not”

Other than these two I play some Apex and since recently Fall Guys.

Due to the fact that I basically do nothing but gaming after my work hours, I have a lot of time to spend on this.

But! Dear reader who has made it this far.

A couple of days ago I have decided that I wanted to learn how to be a beekeeper.
I don’t really like being outside and all that, but I like bees, I like what they do for us and I like the fact that we as humans can help them to try and become a bigger thing again.

This little book is amazing and will hopefully help me along

Due to this about a year ago me and a buddy of mine were trying to find a beekeeper that we could “help out” by having them have a hive in my buddy’s backyard, so we could look at how the process of keeping bees works. We found a company that does this for a monthly fee, and at the end of the season we would be getting the honey.

About a week ago the honey was harvested and in a couple of weeks I should be receiving a bunch of it.

But due to the cost we kind of decided that we could probably do it ourselves.

In the past couple of days I have bought myself a book and equipment. Equipment that should arrive tomorrow, or at least one of the next few days.

I have found a beekeeper who’s willing to sell me a small colony and in the next few weeks I will be putting up a colony on some land my family owns. After which I shall be doing my utmost best to help them get ready for the winter.

“Getting ready for the winter, this early?” You ask yourself. Yes, as it turns out, bee season normally starts in April/May and by the end of august they tend to slow down their production and should already be sort of ready for the winter. So the fact that I’m starting with it in July is giving myself a bit of a handicap but whatever.

I’m hoping to write about this a bit more, my journey and such. And I shall take you along with it. Even if “you” in this case is actually myself reading this in the future since I have no idea if anyone still reads this thing.

But at least I’ll have a diary of sorts. IF I can find the words to put down.

With that being said, I shall bid you farewell and until next time. I’m quite excited about this new adventure.

That being said, I shall still write about gaming if and when the muse hits.

Stay tuned o7