" Peu de choses dans
le monde de l'apiculture soulèvent autant d'excitation que l'arrivée
annuelle des nouvelles abeilles au printemps, à la fois pour les abeilles
et les apiculteurs, " explique l'auteur Richard Duplain.
Normalement, les abeilles
s'accroissent simplement par le processus naturel de la ponte des œufs,
et quand la ruche est pleine, une partie des abeilles quitte la ruche pour
se trouver un nouveau logement. Les apiculteurs expérimentés peuvent
prévoir le moment quand la ruche est prête à se diviser et savent
comment retirer une nouvelle reine avec quelques abeilles pour les placer
dans une nouvelle résidence préparée à cette fin. C'est une des
façons pour les apiculteurs de multiplier leurs propres ruches ou d'en
vendre à d'autres apiculteurs ce qui est à leur profit et à celui de
L'hiver et le printemps de
2008 ont été particulièrement sévères pour les abeilles de Duplain;
il a dû trouver quatre nouvelles ruches pour remplacer celles qu'il avait
perdues à cause de la température et de l'eau. Et maintenant que ces
quatre nouvelles ruches sont arrivées et installées, la nouvelle saison
d'apiculture a commencé!
very little in the world of beekeeping that can generate as much
excitement as the annual arrival of the honeybee stock each spring.
This year was no different, especially
at the Bee Store in Maugerville, from where proprietors Ruth and David
McKinney sent out notices advising beekeepers, "The bees have
News of this year's spring arrivals
from bee breeder Murray Forgrave was the spark that ignited a fuse of
excitement and nervous anticipation.
Within hours, the store became a depot
where beekeepers anxiously cradled their "babies" to
awaiting trucks and cars for one last ride to the beeyard.
The arrival or emergence of the first
brood of soon-to-be foragers or field bees coincides with the earliest
blooms of wildflowers like dandelions and willows and is heralded by a
chorus of songbirds. Memories of the cold and snow of a long harsh
Maritime winter and a merciless spring flood ultimately give way to
the promise of spring, longer days, and nature's rebirth.
And, just as a fresh surge of sap
awakens and invigorates the countryside, the warmer rays of sunshine
enliven the spirits of beekeepers all across New Brunswick.
is a great deal of help in the beeyard.
(Photo: Richard Duplain)
As nucleus and brain centre of the
colony, the queen is aware of the seasonal changeover and delivers the
message to her community by dispensing a complex mix of chemical
scents called pheromones.
The queen is the sole egg layer in the
colony and begins her never-ending task as worker bees prepare the
nursery of thousands of hexagonal cells made of wax produced by their
glands. These wax cells are also used by the honeybees to store their
food - pollen from plants and flowers, and honey they make from the
nectar of flowers.
And, just as there's a flurry of
activity inside the hive where the honeybees live, there's a great
deal of excitement outside the colony or hive box where the beekeepers
Some of the larger or commercial
beekeepers are experts in helping queen bees reproduce their colonies.
Normally, honeybees will grow their
populations simply through natural processes of egg laying and
swarming. Swarming is when a queen bee and a host of worker bees leave
the hive in search of a new home.
Over time the bees will fill their home
to capacity. A new queen is born and she will assume the current
residence while her mother, the original queen, accompanied by a swarm
of workers, will take leave of her birthplace and establish a new home
in a new location.
The expert beekeeper is well aware of
the pulse of the hive and can often predict an imminent swarming.
The experts can create a nucleus hive
by removing a new queen or a queen cup where a baby queen is
developing along with a complement of bees and place them in the new
Pollen sacks on a foraging honeybee.
(Photo: Richard Duplain)
The nucleus hive is monitored for
growth and health before it is delivered to a beekeeper. Immediately,
the colony begins to build its population to close to 40,000 honeybees
and soon it becomes a strong honey and wax-producing community.
That's one of a number of ways
beekeepers multiply their stock of bees for the benefit of other
beekeepers as well as themselves and ultimately the environment.
For the new or beginning beekeeper like
me all this is far in the background.
There are pressing concerns before the
actual arrival of the nucleus colonies.
Preparation work includes establishing
the beeyard and that means situating in an area with good southern
exposure and nearby sources of water and nectar.
Before the bees arrive, the beekeeper
sorts through an on-hand inventory of necessary equipment including
wooden hive boxes, covers and bottom boards, wax foundation that give
the bees a head start on cell production, and frames in which to
firmly hold the delicate wax structures inside the hive boxes.
The beekeeper will set out all the
required pieces of each boxed colony according to the number of
nucleus hives to arrive. When the nucleus hives arrive, the beekeeper
gently removes the queen and her bees and places them in new and
larger hive boxes.
The winter and spring of 2008 will go
down in recorded history as one of New Brunswick's most trying times.
Record snowfalls and spring flooding along the St. John River Valley
cost farmers millions of dollars in damage, lost revenue, and
Snow covering elevated hive boxes.
(Photo: Richard Duplain)
The season was particularly hard on my
bees in two yards and I required four nucleus hives to replace those I
lost to weather and water.
A prolonged winter claimed four
colonies, while floodwaters in Sheffield all but eliminated the colony
I established a year ago on the small Bartlett family farm.
About a handful of bees huddled in the
upper reaches of the upper brood box was all that was left of an
otherwise strong and healthy wintered hive. I combined them with my
one remaining hive in my Hanwell beeyard, and the colony shows a good
Now with the arrival and installation
of the four nucleus hives, the new beekeeping season has begun.