Honey Bees

We have been so busy here at Lavanda Blu, between farm chores, the kitchen garden, guests coming and going, Hans repairing damage to the roof from the snow, my mother visiting for a few weeks and now Hans’ mother visiting, getting the items for our farm shop ready and some really big things coming up soon:

A lavender festival that we’re organizing (more on that very soon)
Distilling our own essential oils (more very soon on that too)

Whew.

In the midst of all this activity, our friends Linda and Rainer from Germany have put two big bee hives on our main lavender field.bees-under-pear-tree

Bee hives under a pear tree for shade

Both are naturopaths in Germany with a passion for nature, plants, herbs, sustainability, etc. and they have a property nearby that they are slowly restoring and planting loads of fruit trees, herbs and so on…we have such a good time with them, we’ve so much in common!

Linda is an organic bee keeper extraordinaire (you can visit her website here:
http://www.sonnenstrahl-honig.de/) and her honey is out of this world.

So we have guest bees here at Lavanda Blu.

close-up-bee-house

This is the back of the hive. If you look closely you can see bees buzzing about on the right bottom, under the hive veranda.

Due to the stress of the move and the earth moving (we can slightly feel many of the after shocks of the quakes just north of us in Modena), they were very aggressive on their first morning.

But now the bees are back to their busy calm life.
Thank goodness.

We learned these basics:

  • NEVER go to the front of a bee hive….the guards inside perceive this as a threat and come out and attack. Seriously.

The hives are placed on the edge of the lavender field, with the back facing the field.

  • If a bee is flying around aggressively because you’ve threatened her, CLOSE your eyes tight, put your fists in front of your eyes and stay very still. Once she realizes you’re not up for a fight or flight, off she goes to mind her own business. Hard to do as my knee jerk response is to flee, but that just aggravates them.
  • Bees need shade, just like us.
  • Always wear a hat when you’re near the hives. Bees are very protective of their family and can get caught in your hair if you’re around bothering them. They panic and then it’s really not nice.
  • Bees really just want to get pollen and nectar to bring back to their family, so they do not bother us at all when we are all around the same flowers. We can be in the lavender field, which is now literally swarming with bees, butterflies, wasps, and the cutest fuzzy wild bees that look like little tiny humming birds, and we are never stung, even when we’re cutting lavender bunches.

bees-on-lavender

Bees on the just opening up lavender flowers

  • Bees need a swimming pool. Or rather a basin with water for them to drink nearby the hive, or else they come looking for water elsewhere, like say, near the house.

bee-swimming-pool

Bee swimming pool. The little cells of planters allow them to gingerly crawl down and sip water without getting drowned.

  • Bees sleep at night. All in their house.

Now, in a few weeks we should have some lavender honey. And I’m so glad that Linda and Rainer are the ones who will be gathering the honey!

2 comments to Honey Bees

  • Tim Elster

    Hello, I stumbled across your website while researching beekeeping in Italy. I plan to retire in a few years time to a small farmhouse I have restored in eastern Tuscany near the border with Umbria – the Upper Tiber Valley to be precise. The farmhouse is up in the hills and I have about five acres of land that was used for growing tobacco in the distant past. There are lots and lots of mature chestnut trees nearby. I need to be “doing something” and so a couple of hives is not going to be enough. I would be interested to know what type of hives your friends gave you. I am also curious about your lavender crop. Would you mind answering a few questions. Congratulations on your friendly and informative site. Best wishes, Tim Elster (London)

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