2019 A Year of Bees atop the Athletes Village Co-op

2019 A Year of Bees atop the Athletes Village Co-op

In the spirit of “year-in-review” posts, I collected all my beekeeping photos from 2019 and stitched together a rough timeline of the year.

These photos don’t paint a complete picture of the season. This year the core beekeeping team was Emily, Pooneh and myself, with support from Derek and, a new friend, Phil Laflamme of Queenright Beekeeping Services.

A Beautiful Spring Day – April 14, 2019

We planned to open the hives up for the season on April 15th, so I decided to scope out the rooftop the day before. Spring was definitely in the air. ⛰

Opening the Hives for the first time this year – April 15, 2019

I recorded opening the first 20 minutes of opening our hives to share with the Coop. I’m a little slow digging in, so I’ve cut the video down to about 1:30.

April 29, 2019

May Flowers mean Happy Bees! – May 2019

A hive inspection with Pooneh, Emily, and special guest Phil Laflamme from Queenright Beekeeping Services.

We’re looking for the queen so we can put a dot of paint on her head.
Green was the colour for 2019!

International queen marking color.jpg

The 2 hours spent with Phil were absolutely invaluable. We ended up asking him to make a return visit in June to help with an overpopulation issue.

Introducing our new Middle Hive! – June 2019

In June we gained a new hive. We had considered adding a new hive to our garden since 2018, but we hadn’t made any concrete decision. That is, until late-May when we split the East hive and that split became the new “middle hive” on the stand.

Phil Laflamme helped us out again this month. His insight is always appreciated! He helped us confidently perform the split and prepared us to maintain the bees afterward.

The 2 photos above show the new “Middle Hive” placed atop an extra hive cover as a makeshift baseboard. We didn’t have another baseboard available when we decided to upgrade the split from a NUC box to a full frame, so we MacGuyvered a solution.

The bees could come and go using the space provided by the overhang of the box. We placed the entrance at the “back” of the hive stand in an attempt to coax the bees to return to the middle hive, and not the east (left) hive from where they were originally split. Eventually we will want the entrance to face the trellis, like the over hives–NOT in the working area!

It worked well for a week, but we quickly installed a proper baseboard the next weekend.

The base is rotated 45 degrees because eventually we want the landing boards to the other direction, i.e. toward the trellis, not at us!

We turned the hive about 45 degrees every few days to reorient the hive without stressing out the bees too much.

Why? Consider a bee returning to the hive after foraging for pollen and nectar for hours. They expect the hive entrance to be right where they left it. If we rotated the hives 180 degrees while they were gone, they’d fly back to the exact entrance of their home, only to find no entrance.

If I returned home with an armful of groceries on a hot summer day, I am CERTAIN I’d be annoyed if someone flipped my house 180 degrees. We can’t do that to the bees!

Preparing the Smoker for a Hive Check – July 2019

Checking on our Honey Harvest – August 2019

The “honey” that first goes into the chamber is more “watery” than honey you’d eat–or honey we prefer to harvest. Water slowly evaporates from the honey as it sits in the uncapped chambers until it reaches the gooey texture with which we’re so familiar.

The Honey Harvest! – September 22, 2019

Extracted honey is filtered through cheese cloth to catch particles, like honeycomb or bee parts, so we an enjoy smooth, clean honey.

A Fall Feeding – October 6, 2019

Bee Garden Boxes – November 23, 2019

In November, my neighbour Ryanne received a grant from Vancouver Foundation’s Small Neighbourhood Grants and she organized these awesome Bee Garden boxes to commemorate her friend and respected colleague Peter Wanyenya.

In early 2020, these boxes will be filled with bee-friendly flowers to help provide extra food during off-peak times near the beginning and end of the season.

The garden boxes are filled, waiting for a nice day to plant the flowers!

I’ll provide an update on the Bee Flower Boxes once we have some bulbs planted.

Honourable Mentions and Other Thoughts

  • We did not have a significant issue with ants this year. I attribute that to doing fewer feedings and ending feeding earlier than we typically would.
  • We still had wasp issues, even using the traps. Pretty sure we lost the west hive to wasps again this year. Dumb wasps!

2020 and Beyond!

In 2019 I’m looking forward to hitting the following goals:

  • Harvest over 60lbs of honey in August!
    • Should be easy with 3 hives, right? ;P
  • Train 1-2 new beekeepers for the AV Coop hives.
  • Continue to hone our wasp mitigating strategy.
  • Engage the local community with out hives so others can learn about bees, and how important and awesome they are!

Mike Walker

Mike is a full-stack web developer with 15 years experience. I focus on PHP & Javascript development, and work with platforms like Shopify Plus and WooCommerce eCommerce. The Agency Developer is a weekly curated newsletter with a mission to inform and educate developers working with digital agencies.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Loved reading this update Mike! You live in such a cool community.

    1. Hey, thanks Justin! This really is an awesome community. I’m very fortunate to have found myself living here. Co-op live paving the way to the future!

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