Warmer weather is finally here! For some, that means fun outdoor activities and planning vacations. For Chef Kyle Williams of the Live Blue Kitchen + Café, it means the Blue KC bees are finally back in action.
But a long winter resulted in a difficult time for the hive.
“It’s really been an experiment this past year,” Chef Kyle explained. “We had one hive that froze to death. We lost that hive, and then [the other] hive that was further to the East, they must have left sometime during one of the few warm days we had this winter. So, we have to start from scratch this spring.”
Starting from scratch means adding a new queen bee and new bees to the existing boxes, which can be risky as the worker bees may not take to the new queen as she gets established. They could even turn on her and kill her. But so far, the Blue KC bees are thriving.
“They’re doing great!” Chef Kyle exclaimed. “We’ve had them for about 2-3 weeks now.”
Sugar water also plays a big part in priming a new hive. Having this readily accessible to the bees for the first week or so helps kick off the process. After about a week, it’s removed, and the bees start making their wax, which eventually leads to them being ready to go out and pollinate and start making honey. Without the sugar water, the bees wouldn’t have what they need for the wax-making portion of their process.
Once the season is all said and done, Chef Kyle is hoping the hive will produce around five gallons of honey, depending on the weather. He loves to incorporate raw honey into various dishes at the café, like the Spring Detox smoothie.
Another thing local, raw honey is great for? Helping your allergies! “One way you can [try to] overcome allergies is eating healthy and incorporating local, raw honey into your diet. You’re actually ingesting the local pollen from your environment and your body is developing antibodies to learn how to fight that.”
So, is Chef Kyle less worried about the bees swarming or the colony collapsing, like one of the hives did last year?
“It’s just something bees naturally do,” he explained. “There are ways you can manipulate a beehive, but that’s not something we’re interested in doing [at Blue KC]. It’s something that happens naturally, and it’s something bees need to do to continue to grow.”
One thing the past few months taught us is that beekeeping truly is a learning process. We may not have winterized our hives last year, but Chef Kyle is planning to put blankets over the hives, so it doesn’t get so cold inside. Either way, we’re beyond excited to see what these new hives are capable of this spring and summer!