Since it looked like I was going to reach my funding goal for the Cozy Bee Project, I took a chance and pre-ordered 10 packages of bees to replenish the ones lost to the bear last year. Yesterday, two days before the end of fundraising, they arrived! I put them in the hives, and there was a lot of buzzing and chaos. The weather was perfect: it almost got up to 80 and was sunny. By the end of the day, the beez were pretty calm and inside their houses resting, so it all looks pretty good. For now, I’m keeping the buzzers in the yard until I get the new apiary set up at Nehalem River Ranch (other farmer friends of ours). These bees are going there some time next week (Emily will NOT be pleased if they are still in her garden when she returns from her trip!) .
The old bees at Foley Creek, the original and strongest apiary, are going to move to somewhere else on Farmer Ned’s property at some point too, but I am not yet sure when, as we’re moving them out of the orchard to make both beekeeping and orcharding easier. My friend Ryan saw a bear track last fall near those hives, so that one is going to get an electric fence before the end of summer, but not the full-on deal that Gravel Creek is getting, since THAT bear knows about hives and will be harder to discourage.
At Gravel Creek (our new farm), I need to build the new bear exclosure, but that’s the lowest priority, after the other two apiaries are set up and running smoothly. I have 16 colonies right now, 8 per apiary, and that was the base setup for the experiment. Since I got extra funding (thanks to all who participated!) I will have to build some more hives, and it looks like some of my colonies from last year are big enough to split this month, so I may yet be able to fill the new hives when that happens.
But today it has turned to rainy and windy and cold, so I am hiding inside next to the cozy fire. I can check on my bees, though, from here. A computer programmer/ electrical engineer from the other side of the mountain heard about my project, and sent me some of his gear to test. He invented a gizmo that has sensors in every hive, and sends temperature and humidity data wirelessly to a central Raspberry Pi computer that can be accessed by WiFi. It’s pretty awesome, and actually costs the same as the “hard way” I was planning on doing it with individual USB data loggers. It’s excellent. The best part is that he’s beta testing all this, so not only is he giving me a good deal, but he’s modifying the operating system and adding functionalities as I suggest them. It’s all the fun of R&D without any (most?) of the work. Who knows, maybe I will set it up some day so YOU can see how my bees are doing, on this website?
There will be more updates on this as the spring moves on I try to get it all working properly to start the Experiment.