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The Birds and the Bees

February 17, 2017

By Chris Erwin
Maybe I should have said the bees and the birds since I want to start with the bees. As many of you know I have decided to start raising honeybees.
I have ordered two nucs, a slang name for nucleus hives. That is a hive that is basically half the size as a full ten frame hive. When ordering bees to start a hive, you can buy them two ways, as package bees or as a nucs.

Greg Cross of the Honey & Bee Connection shows me around the Bee store in Morehead Kentucky

The difference is package bees are usually three pounds of bees and a queen. The problem here is the bees are just taken from other hives, and the queen is reared separately. They don’t know each other, and the bees must accept her as their queen. This usually works, but they are a chance that they will just kill her.
The other method is buying nucs. You get a five-frame hive where the queen is laying and starting to raise young. The worker bees are already collecting pollen and nectar and making some honey.

In my case, I bought my bees from Jim Cross the owner of the Honey & Bee Connection in Morehead, Kentucky. I took a trip to visit the bee farm. I had never been there; I bought the bees at the Bee School where Mr. Cross was teaching part of the class.

I understood he has a fairly large operation of both producing honey and selling to other beekeepers anything they need to raise their own bees. I checked his hours to make sure he was open on Saturdays.

I headed out early Saturday morning to see what he had and to see when they thought my nucs might be ready this spring. When I got there, I could see about 60 beehives in the lower field by the store. I got out of the car and walked up on the porch and saw the closed sign on the door. It was obvious they lived in the house near the store, and I had Cross’s cell phone number, something he gave me at the bee school, so I called him.

He was in Tennessee but he told me his son Greg was supposed to be working the store but he was on the volunteer fire department and got a call for a neighbor who had a heart attack. Jim Cross called me right back to say, “Hang in there; he’s on his way.”
In just a few minutes he pulled into his driveway and I got to meet Greg Cross. He was nice guy who knew everything about bees and was quick to say they were there to help people no matter what level of bee keeping they happen to be.

Greg Cross showed me around the store as he explained the difference in bee suits, hives and all the accessories that went along with bee keeping. Since I have been researching all of this stuff, I had a good sense of what this stuff cost online and I found him to be very competitive on price. They have a big supply of anything you would need plus they have a detailed catalog and a website to order ahead.

I needed to know about when my hives would be ready and just how I was going to pick them up. He told me, “Package bees will start to be delivered in April while nucs wouldn’t be ready until the end of May. Nucs are in five frame boxes, and you will need to bring the full 10-frame hive. They will remove five frames and take the frames from the nuc and transfer them to your full-size hive then strap them down tape up the entrance holes so you can transfer them to the new hive location.”

I have also joined two bee clubs. I will be writing about how this all goes in the weeks ahead. The Honey and Bee Connection is located at 80 Emory Branch Road, Morehead, KY 40351. They can be reached at: 606.784.3108. Business hours are Tuesday – Saturday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Birds: The Great Backyard Bird Count, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society puts on a backyard bird count each year, and they need your help. “This count is so fun because anyone can take part —we all learn and watch birds together—whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher. I would like to invite new birders to join me and share the experience. Get involved, invite your friends, and see how your favorite spot stacks up.” -Gary Langham, Chief Scientist. It will be held Friday, February 17, through Monday, February 20, 2017. Please visit the official website at birdcount.org for more information and be sure to check out the latest educational and promotional resources.

Chris Erwin is the Author of Camping Kentucky, founder and publisher of Kentucky Angling News an on-line magazine available at www.kentuckyangling.com/magazine Chris can be reached by email chris@ashlandbeacon.com

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