The Hives of Ruby Roots

Remember a few years ago when the “Flow Hive was the hottest thing on the internet? Well, the marketing was effective, and there was a birthday, and boom; we were on the road to beekeeping.

That first hive ended disastrously: our queen was assassinated by invading wasps. Four years, four more unsuccessful hives, loads of research, and a University of Montana Extension class later, we’re trying our hand again.

In early May, we’ll be picking up our two new bee nucs (nucleus colonies). This time, we’re starting with two hives of carniolan bees. To prepare for the new hives we first must build a bee yard. I like to think of the bee yard as the patio/garden area of their home. As with most things in a garden space, the bees really like good sunlight. So we’re going to establish our bee yard over by our new barn, where they will get those nice east-facing and south-facing rays. This spot is also fairly protected from the wind, so they should be pretty happy about that too.

Our Langstroth Hives

Our hives are the standard Langstroth variety that you often see in fields and orchards - white boxes made of pine that stack into cool towers. The ones at Ruby Roots will sit on platforms we will build about two feet off the ground, and be secured to the platforms with ratchet straps. This way if we have to move the hives, they can easily be picked up with the tractor fork!

We’re going two feet for two reasons. One, it’ll be easier to work with hives that are not so low to the ground (bending over and over would be rough!). Two, it will keep the hive entrances out of reach from skunks. Skunks, it turns out, love to eat bees! Not the honey, but the insects themselves. And, what's more, skunks are impervious to stings (kind of like the African honey badger - zero cares to give).

previous hive set-up

Around the platforms will be some space for working with the hives. At Ruby Roots, we like to talk about bee yards as if they were airports. You need plenty of room for all the departing and arriving flights. As the beekeeper, you don’t want to get in the way of all that activity! We like to approach the hives from behind, and then from around the sides. Surrounding the working space, a simple electric fence will be put up, to deter bears.

As always, safety first! We assure any visitors to the farm that we have brokered a deal with the hive union, and the bees have agreed to not make a nuisance of themselves. We’re always happy to escort visitors to the bee yard. If you’re interested in visiting the girls, we can also provide the proper protective gear.

We’re looking forward to getting our apiary up and running again. We’ll keep you all posted on more bee stuff throughout the summer, when life is blooming and the honey is flowing! Make sure to follow us on instagram for daily updates on the farm.


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