Beekeeping

Keeping Bees and Friends in Washington

Written by Cricket

In case you didn’t know, I used to live in Washington before moving to Arizona. I didn’t keep bees then, but I did keep friends. One of them also turned out to be a pretty awesome mom and beekeeper. Kathleen and I have been friends for almost 20 years, and even though we have lived in different states for most of that time, we still seem to end up filling out lives with the same stuff—though she filled hers with 6 kids while I have only 2.

A few weeks ago I visited her at her new place in Tacoma. I wanted to help with her garden and bees, but we mostly ended up playing. We hiked, skinny dipped, sat on the beach, visited all the best places, and even got to fly a plane with her brother, Paul. So much fun was had that the garden didn’t even get touched. We did get to the bees though.

Beekeeping is playing too, right?

I mean, why keep bees if it isn’t fun? Look how cute Kathleen’s smoker is after she put some flowery duct tape on it? One of the quirky things I’ve noticed about beekeepers is that we all have a little different method of lighting our smokers. Kathleen grabs mulch off the ground and tosses in a lit piece of paper.

Sticky Propolis

This is what propolis looks like in the Northwest. Its a bit different than what I’m used to seeing in Phoenix — gummier and more abundant. It makes sense that propolis would vary by region since the bees make it from the sap of local trees. This tasted like Cottonwood buds, which is one of my favorite scents. I’m going to have to have Kathleen send me some to tincture. I’m guessing my bee’s propolis will taste like mesquite and paloverde.

Inspecting

One problem Kathleen had with her nuc in the beginning is that it was at maximum capacity when she got it. Shortly after she installed them into her hive, they split and swarmed. Thankfully they left a queen cell, but no other brood.

After borrowing a few brood frames from a neighbor, and waiting a few weeks, we found the new queen and she was definitely laying. Here in Arizona, that new queen would have to be replaced because she would have mated with Africanized bees. They don’t have that issue in Washington. Kathleen did point out that the positive aspect of being queenless for a few weeks is that it broke the Brood Cycle, and should in return lower the mite count. I say that’s a happy ending.

Even Nice Bees Sting

These were super nice bees, especially after my norm of dealing with Africanized nasties. But even docile Italians get over zealous to defend their home. This poor thing at least gave us a nice photo op of her demise.

And Lastly…

I’m getting me some hammocks!

About the author

Cricket

Welcome to my blog! I’m Cricket (yes, my parents named me that!) and I’m a natural homesteader. Growing up in rural Idaho with a garden, a horse, and lots of canned food, I like to bring those sensibilities to my suburban home in Phoenix, Arizona. Add a little dose of cottage garden flavor and permaculture tendencies, and you’ll see why GardenVariety.Life is a reflection of everything I do.

I truly enjoy sharing the skills that promote a meaningful and practical connection to our gardens and environment. Because so many residents of the metro phoenix area are transplants, I find that the area’s unique desert climate is often misunderstood and underestimated in terms of what is possible. That’s where the fun begins. Arizona is a burgeoning permaculture haven with homesteading written all over it, and there is nothing I enjoy more than encouraging others to jump in and give it a try.

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