Watching our Rogue Farms Honeybees hard at work this summer makes us appreciate even more all the effort that goes into building a hive. It’s the kind of appreciation you can only get when you grow your ingredients.
We start by putting together the hive boxes for the bees. But where we’re done, job of the honeybees is just getting started. They have to build the combs where they’ll raise their brood and store their honey. Without the combs the hive won’t survive.
Good thing our population of bees is climbing above the five million mark and rising. They have a lot of work to do.
Here’s a look inside a hive box before we’re done putting it together. Each box has about ten frames.
A frame holds a small piece of plastic or beeswax called a foundation. Look closely and you’ll see that the foundation is stamped with a pattern of hexagons. This is the literal foundation of the honeycomb that the bees will build.
Here’s a completed comb. In the brood area the queen bee lays eggs in the tiny cells and the workers will feed and take care of her offspring. This comb came from an upper box where the bees used it to store honey.
When we harvest a honeycomb, we scrape off the top layer of wax and extract the honey while keeping the comb intact. That way, the honeybees can continue using the comb next season.
The construction season taking place inside the Rogue Farms beehives is extremely important to the long term success of the apiary. But it comes at a small price.
Bee make beeswax out of honey. It takes about six to eight pounds of honey for a pound of wax. So while we’re in this building phase some of the honey we would normally harvest will go into the construction of the combs. But brood combs and honey combs can be reused year after year. We’ll wait until next year for a full harvest.
Which is just fine with us. At Rogue Farms we’ve learned that growing your own ingredients means being patient. We take care of our bees first, and then we have what’s leftover.