Seasons of Honeybees: Autumn

Seasons of Honeybees: Autumn

Jacob Ellinger is a local beekeeper living in the Hilltowns with his wife and three children. As a freshman apiarist, keeping bees since 2013, Jacob relishes in the joy of sharing this new hobby and what he learns with his family, friends and neighbors.  For the next four seasons, Jacob will be sharing what it’s like to keep honeybees, what he learned in the previous season, and what he expects as the season transitions into the next…

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What is it like keeping bees?

Beekeeping is a great experience. Your spectrum of beekeeping becomes broadened and you really get in touch with what is going on in nature. You get to share your experiences and help raise awareness of how amazing/important these little creatures are. To see a child’s eyes light up, or family/friends eagerly wanting to learn more is priceless. But like all husbandry practices, it has it’s challenges. You must rely on the weather, may get pest or predators, you will get stung from time to time… but the experience makes it all worth it!

My family attempts to be as sustainable as possible: we try to buy local, grow our own food, forage for mushrooms, and raise chickens. Keeping honeybees is just one more sustainable practice we can participate in.  Plus,  it’s great to see your own honeybees along side native pollinators, working the vegetable gardens, making a difference in volume and quality of produce.

How was the summer season?

This past summer season in western Massachusetts was relatively good, but not like summers we’re use to.  It was neither too hot nor rainy and most blooms came out on time.  This kept our honeybees busy pollinating our vegetable garden and wild plants like Purple loosestrife (great honey source), Clover (great pollen/honey source), Sumac (extremely good pollen/honey source), and Goldenrod (another extremely good pollen/honey source).

I have a couple of  strong hives, including a small swarm-hive, and a hive that are bear survivors. This summer I tried giving these stronger hives room to grow while encouraging the weaker hives to bulk out.

What next?

As we round the corner into autumn, the hives are in full production.  The bees are getting ready for the harsh New England winter by building up their honey and pollen supplies. As the nights get colder the hives begin to smell sweeter and sweeter, and in the weeks to come the honey flow will cease and pollen will be their main objected as it is part of their diet and essential for Brood rearing (baby raising).  Once the honey is harvested, it will be my job to insulate and tidy the hives sometime in November, protecting them from the coming Northern winds.

My hope this coming season is to be able to identify where the bees are foraging. Last fall, I had a hard time figuring this out, watching them coming in and out with pollen, but no flowers to be found. This year I have a chart from the NASA web site, a great tool for every region of the United States

I also want to refurbish an observatory that was handed down to me from a close friend’s grandfather. An observatory will be a great tool for demonstrations and teaching opportunities for kids.  Partner with a local school, I can hopefully raise awareness about the plight of honeybees and how to care for them.


If you are interested in following Jacob on his journey as a bee keeper, visit his blog, hilltownapiaries.blogspot.com.

5 Comments

  1. Pam Treadwell said,

    September 30, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Awesome, Jake! Keep up the great work and ENJOY :D

  2. Mrs. Drenga said,

    September 27, 2014 at 9:55 am

    This is so interesting! Bees are such a vital component to our environment!! Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Melissa McCaul said,

    September 24, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! Very cool.

  4. Sheila Green said,

    September 24, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Great article. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Mrs.Fisk said,

    September 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing your article with me. Very interesting. I look forward to the observatory being finished so that you can bring it on one of your visits to my classroom in the future.


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