The Honey Bee Project!


The Honey Bee Update ~ December 2013

It was a very busy and challenging summer for our Honey Bee friends. The package we installed in the “Nest Hive” must not have liked their new home. A few days after they were installed they decided to swarm and look for a better spot. Judy and Ann were able to capture them and put them back but they were still not satisfied and a few days later took off for good. Hopefully Isis and her girls found a good home and there is a beautifully marked blue queen reproducing somewhere in the wild.

Not wanting to leave the hive empty, Judy bought a beautiful strong healthy nuc, which is a 5 frame functioning hive and installed it in the now empty Nest Hive. It was SO strong and crowded that it soon swarmed and was too high up on a tree to retrieve. A couple of weeks later it issued a secondary swarm which her brave son in law and she were able to capture and hive…thus creating hive #4. When they stayed put and began to thrive she felt like a proud mother!

All was not done with the Nest Hive though!! After the second swarm, they had to re queen. That was done successfully, but the hive did not like her. They let her live and lay eggs for only one day! They did away with her and used her eggs to make their own queen!! How rude was that?? By mid July they had figured it all out and the hive was thriving!

Summer has passed so quickly! They were able to get some honey off of two of the hives. (which we thoroughly enjoyed!) Now it’s time to prepare for winter. Brrrrr. After the honey supers were pulled from the hives they began to feed a heavy sugar syrup. The bees take this into the brood chambers, dehydrate it and cap it off as they would nectar so that they will have food to sustain themselves throughout the winter. In this area a two bodied hive should weigh about 100 lbs. in late fall. They have also placed straw bales behind the hives to protect them from the cold northwest winds. Later on, they will feed a hard sugar patty when the cold weather really sets in. The bees don’t hibernate during the winter. Instead they form a tight cluster within the hive and shiver to keep each other warm. When it is warm enough in the hive the bees take turns going to feed. It is not uncommon for a hive to starve to death even though there are food stores nearby. It just hasn’t been warm enough to reach them.

Judy and Ann have done everything possible to get the bees through the winter. All we can do now is keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. If all goes well we will be able to bring 4 strong hives through the winter and ready to start off with a bang in the spring!

April 27, 2013

The Bees are here!! Judy and Ann picked up a truckload of bees for the Beekeeper Association and in that shipment were The Robin’s Nest bees! 13,000 to be exact and on Sunday, April 27 at 10am, they were introduced to their new home. What a thrilling experience to be a part of! The bees were very docile at this time and it was wonderful to see them up close and personal. This has been an incredibly enlightening experience! I (Robbi) was fortunte enough to don a beekeeping jacket and be allowed to be in the thick of things. I was surprised at the connected calmness that I experienced while being so close to so many bees! Their humming was incredibly soothing and although they had spent the last 5 days traveling (all the way from Georgia!), they seemed relaxed and ready to check out their new home. Seeing the Queen Bee (who is in her own cage and marked with a blue dot on her back) for the first time was very exciting. Since she holds such an important role, she has been named Queen Isis. We hope you enjoy the slide show of their installation and will check back to see their progress over the summer months!

March 10, 2013

What a fantastic day! Judy and Ann brought all the materials to The Robin’s Nest to build our new hive. Ann gave a wonderful presentation on the bees and I can tell you, there is a lot of interest for some new bee keepers! We had 10 people come to help construct all the pieces and paint the new hive that will be placed on Judy’s property in April. The new bee colony is due to arrive April 27! Check out all the pictures from our Bee Hive Building Party!

February 2013…

The bee hive components have been purchased and a date has been set to build our new hive! Join us on Sunday, March 10 at 11am at The Robin’s Nest!

January 31, 2013…



The Story of the Honey Bee by Bellingham, MA Beekeeper, Judy C.

The photos on the slideshow were taken starting April 29, 2012. All the hive components have been assembled & painted, a site has been chosen and a stand or platform constructed. The bees come by truck from an apiary in GA and are in a package of 13,000 along with a queen that is in a separate cage.

The “queen cage” is removed from the package and secured between frames in the hive, then the 13,000 other bees are “shaken” into the hive. The rest of the “frames” are replaced, the hive closed up and fed “sugar syrup”, and the mostly empty “package” placed in front of the hive for the few remaining bees to find their way in.

The “queen cage” has a plug of sugar in one end and the bees will eventually free her. By this time (3-5 days) they will have become used to her pheromones and have accepted her as “their” queen. The bees in the “package” been raised with a different queen in a different hive and would kill the new queen without this adjustment period. After 3-5 days, we open the hive to see if the bees have released their new queen. If not, we pop out the sugar plug and let nature take its course.

Three to five days after “installation” the hive is opened to make sure the queen has been released. Seeing that her cage is empty, it is removed and the “frames” rearranged. If bees have too much space they will fill it with extra wax called “burr comb” and make a mess of things. The hive is then fed sugar syrup and left alone for 2 weeks. During that time the workers secrete wax from glands in their abdomens and “draw out the foundation” into deeper cells.

In two weeks time you should find eggs (which are quite small and I haven’t been able to spot yet), larva (crescent shaped and white in cells), and “capped brood” which are the larva that are pupating into adult bees. The cappings are tan or light brown in color. If you are lucky, you may even spot the queen. She is much larger than the workers, most noticeably longer in the abdomen. Beekeepers who raise queens mark them with a dot of acrylic paint on their backs. The color or the paint indicates the year she was born.

Continuing to feed the hive we just wait for the population to increase and add a second “brood chamber” when the first is about 80% full. When the second “brood chamber” is “drawn out” and filled with “brood” and it is not yet the end of June, a “honey super” can be added. Feeding is stopped so that the nectar being converted to honey is from local forage, not sugar syrup. A “queen excluder” goes on between the brood chambers and honey super so that the queen won’t lay eggs in the frames you want to harvest for honey.

If you are lucky the bees will create the “comb” on the” foundation” and start filling the cells with nectar. They evaporate the nectar (by fanning their wings) to 18 % water which means the honey is “ripe” and then cover it with a thin wax “capping”. In order to “extract” the honey you must slice or scrape off the “cappings” and put the frame into an “extractor” which flings the honey out of the cells by centrifugal force. The honey is then strained and bottled. Any small white particles found floating on top of the honey are just small pieces of wax that made it through the strainer. Coming out of the extractor the honey has been removed from the comb and the frames are now very light. A “honey gate” at the bottom of the extractor allows you to drain and strain the honey. The equipment is then put in the yard for the bees to “clean” while we bottle up the goods. The “wet frames” are put back into the “honey super” and put back on top of the hive for the bees to eat. Within 24 hrs they will have consumed all the honey and the comb will be dry. The “supers” are then taken off the hive and stored until spring when the whole process begins again.

Why are we doing this?

We all recognize the importance of the Honey Bee to our food source, but another reason why we are doing this is to find a deeper conection to Mother Earth and the blessings that she brings us. The Robin’s Nest is a proud supporter of many local charites; multiple local food banks and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to name a few. We feel that it is time to step up and embrace our spirituality as a pagan community and make a difference for Mother Earth. In this way, the money raised for this event will go to building a new bee hive here in Bellingham, MA this spring to help our local crops and in turn, allow us to enjoy a larger honey harvest in the next few years! Those who currently enjoy the local honey we receive from Beekeeper, Judy C. can attest to the fabulousness of the bees creation. So please take a moment to enjoy the slideshow of the creation and installation of a bee hive as well as the story that Beekeeper Judy C. has shared with us and donate through the Add to Cart feature above. We need to raise $500 by the end of January 2013 to accomplish our goal! In addition, for donations of $30 or more, you will recieve a FREE Robin’s Nest Necklace as our Thank You. These necklaces are made by local jewelry artist Linda Andrews and are only available my making a donation to our Honey Bee Fundraiser! There are only 15 available… so don’t miss out!


The importance of honeybees… Just how important are honeybees to the human diet and all life on Earth?

by: Maria Boland

“Just how important are honeybees to the human diet? Typically, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these under-appreciated workers pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops which constitute 1/3 of everything we eat. Losing them could affect not only dietary staples such as apples, broccoli, strawberries, nuts, asparagus, blueberries and cucumbers, but may threaten our beef and dairy industries if alfalfa is not available for feed. One Cornell University study estimated that honeybees annually pollinate $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the U.S. Essentially, if honeybees disappear, they could take most of our insect pollinated plants with them, potentially reducing mankind to little more than a water diet.

Bees are of inestimable value as agents of cross-pollination, and many plants are entirely dependent on particular kinds of bees for their reproduction (such as red clover, which is pollinated by the bumblebee, and many orchids). In many cases the use of insecticides for agricultural pest control has created the unwelcome side effect of killing the bees necessary for maintaining the crop. Such environmental stresses plus several species of parasitic mites devastated honeybee populations in the United States beginning in the 1980s, making it necessary for farmers to rent bees from keepers in order to get their crops pollinated and greatly affecting the pollination of plants in the wild. In recent years commercial honeybee hives have suffered from colony collapse disorder, which, for unknown reasons, left many bee boxes empty of bees after overwintering.

Humans’ intense agricultural practices have greatly affected the pollination practices of bees within the United States. The increased use of pesticides, the reduction in the number of wild colonies and the increased value of both bees and pollinated crops have all added to the importance of protecting bees from pesticides. Furthermore, many homeowners believe dandelions and clover are weeds, that lawns should be only grass to be mowed down regularly, and that everything but the grass should be highly treated with pesticides. This makes a hostile environment for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. ”