A few weekends ago, I went over to my friend Jenny's gorgeous house in neighboring Leicester (about a 25 minute drive from door to door). Her home, built in the 1800's, is a testament to the staying power of quality craftsmanship. A former glassblower and metalworker, Jenny now spends her time as a bike mechanic (she recently founded an awesome bike school on her property that will teach you all you need to know about the world of cycling, and then some!), as well as a hobbyist beekeeper.
I love going over to Jenny's place. Not only does she provide me with a lovely cup of rose tea and honey (from her ladies, of course) the minute I walk in, her place is cozy and lovely and reminiscent of the south of France, with it's sweeping views of grassy hillsides and lush trees swaying in the wind. My recent visit was to take photos, and take note, of Jenny and her friend Bryan (co-owner of Asheville salon Beauty Parade, as well as an actor in small, independent films) as they split her single hive into two. This is done in order to accommodate a growing, thriving hive of bees that might otherwise swarm should they feel too crowded.
The day began a bit breezy and chilly, so we waited indoors for awhile, sipping tea and coffee and chatting (Bryan's very pregnant wife, Terra, and their 3 year-old son were also in tow and were a pleasure to meet, let alone veritable founts of full-on hilarity). As the morning warmed and the wind calmed, we made our way outdoors. Jenny's bees have thrived on her property ever since she first acquired them. Her love and attention, and probably their prime digs on a south-facing hill, have aided in their doing remarkably well during a time of considerable losses for many beekeepers.
The split was a success. Bryan and Jenny transferred several supers full of bees and brood at varying stages of development onto a new bottom board and topped off both the existing hive and the new split with empty supers full of frames with foundation, screened inner covers (which I'd never seen before and was pretty enthralled by), and gorgeous copper-topped telescoping outer covers.
I've provided some photos above of Jenny's set-up. To view images of the split itself, check out my Flickr page. Jenny has been an absolutely indispensable beekeeping mentor. We met almost a year ago at a "swarm" of female beekeepers get-together and became fast friends. If you're new to the world of beekeeping, I cannot stress enough the importance of buddying up with another beekeeper in your area. While books (included my forthcoming one, "Keeping Bees", out next spring) are invaluable tools in your apiary arsenal, nothing beats the real world, tactile, lived experience of a seasoned beekeeper. Find a buddy and you'll both be catching a buzz.