Welcome to the Mehaffey Farm Blog, where you’ll find regular updates on what we’re doing on the farm. It’s a very busy time of year for us, lots of things are happening, and every day brings something new. We’re excited about what we’ve accomplished so far! With this blog, we can share our progress with our CSA members, friends and family — our successes, challenges, and stories. We look forward to your feedback!
During the past nine weeks, Maggie, Bill, Ross, and Mike went to “Bee School.” It was an amazing experience and we learned enough to start raising our honeybees. There’s more to learn, and we’re told to let the bees teach us. But we’re lucky to have several wonderful mentors in the area– experienced beekeepers, willing to help “new-bees” like us. We’ll definitely be calling on their expertise!
We got the bees primarily to help pollinate our veggies with the hope of an added bonus of delicious honey and other products from the hive. So on Sunday afternoon, we finally installed ours in a hive perched on a Southeast-facing hill on the farm where the warmth of the early morning sun will get the bees up bright and early to start gathering pollen and nectar.
Bees are truly amazing creatures with an incredibly organized and complex societal structure. A bee package containing about 14,000 bees arrives with a new queen safely enclosed in a tiny cage (otherwise, they’ll sting the unfamiliar queen to death!) The cage gives the bees time to get used to her pheremones, or scent. She was put in our package just before the long ride up from Georgia, where our bees were picked up last week by Vin Gaglione of Crystal Bee Supply. The queen’s cage is sealed with a candy plug that worker bees eat through, and it takes them about three to five days to free her. In the meantime, other worker bees get busy building the nursery out of wax comb where she will lay her eggs, eventually up to 2,000 a day!
Here are some interesting bee facts:
Honeybees are responsible for pollinating approx 80% of all fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S.
Honeybees communicate with one another by “dancing” different dances that give the direction and distance to flowers and fruit trees.
A single hive contains approximately 40-45,000 bees.
To make one pound of honey, workers in a hive fly 55,000 miles and tap two million flowers.