Honey Bees are a great addition to any farm or garden.

Here is a little information and discussion about our experience with honeybees. We do not have any hives currently at Olallie Daylily Gardens.

In 1998, we decided to try something new at Olallie Farm. With the expert guidance of David we undertook our first foray into the the keeping of bees. Below you'll find a bit of our first year experience s with bees. I think made about every mistake there is to make managing my bees. Regardless I got 100 pounds of honey from 3 hives all of which were newly installed this year
One of the most amazing things about bees is that they are so unpredictable; you can never be sure how they are going to act or react. Furthermore a hive of bees that seems weak may end up being your best hive and a strong hive may end up having poor survival through the winter.
This photo is from 1966 when I was just 10 years old. My father Dan Darrow raised bees. Here Dan looks for the queen. Dan was the inspiration that got me started on Bees!


The first step is to find a good spot to set up hives. It should be level with sun but with some protection from wind and midday heat.

 Here David levels the ground
for the foundations of the hives.


These two hives are set up with
one super and are ready for bees.


Next we quickly shake the worker bees into the hive. The less time spent fussing with the bees the better, but one must not work to frantically or bees may be killed.


We bought three packages of bees
which you can see David separating.


After the worker bees have been shaken into the hive the queen is placed into too. Special care must be taken to prevent the workers from killing her. Once the queen has been accepted the hive is left undisturbed for 2-3 weeks with only periodic sugar water feedings to encourage fast increase.


Anwyn and Quinn look at the queen in her special cage. The queen is in a cage to protect her from the over zealous workers who may in their confusion attack and kill her. The queen is separated from the workers by a plug of sugar. The workers will chew through the sugar and in that time accept the queen.


Throughout the months of June July and August our honeybees needed regular inspections to make sure they were doing OK. That way you can be assured that the hive is healthy and reproducing well. Once a beehive has reached a certain population and there is a good honeyflow its time to put on honey supers, to allow the collection of honey for extracting and bottling.
Notice how David works the bees without gloves , he believes that this is important to more gently handle the frames and minimize crushing of bees.



Using a smoker to "Smoke" bees helps to calm them and make them more manageable. Here we are smoking the top of a box to drive the bees down in preparation for setting another box on top.



David is using a hive tool to pull a frame to check on how big the bee population is.

Setting aside a frame of bees gives you more room to work the hive without killing bees. Its amazing how many bees can fit in a hive! Here you can see an example of a really well populated hive. You must be careful though because if the bees think they are too crowded they will swarm.

David looks for the queen among hundreds of worker bees. Its important to determine that the queen is alive and laying eggs. This can be done without even seeing the queen as long as a good brood pattern is observed.

This frame has drone (male) comb at the bottom right hand corner, above the drone comb is capped honey, and to the left of the capped honey is capped brood. Usually excess drone comb is scrape off and discarded as its no benefit to the hive.


A queen excluder is put in to prevent the queen from going into the upper supers and laying eggs in the honey supers. It is a thin piece of plastic with holes big enough for a worker bee to fit through but too small for a queen. This ensures that a box of frames will be filled only with honey.

Here you can see capped honey which is ready for extracting. This is a white Pierco plastic frame. Some people feel that bees dont like the plastic frames at first ,but the real selling point is the Pierco frame is virtually indestructible.

Honeybees will visit daylilies, but I doubt they get much nectar from them.

 One of the great things about the end of August is the daylilies that are blooming are real stand outs in the garden, and there are oodles of annuals now fully mature and blooming. We will expect a good bloom show from now into October!


Here Zinnias and Purple Kale showcase various Miscanthus grass and a bunch of late blooming daylilies!


The old fashioned cultivar Boutonniere, which was developed by Dr Stout in the 1930's is a wonderful little orange that blooms quite late.


A newer cultivar: Lord Of Autumn, we hope to have a few pieces to sell next year


A late citrina hybrid, with an interesting bloom, hopefully we'll havce this moved out into the selling beds next year too. 


Close up of a red Zinnia


Two toned Zinnia


White Zinnia


Honeybee on a Zinnia


One of the newer Nicotiana species we're trialing. We love how it goes from white to pink as the blooms go by.

A whole season of growing and waiting means that now finally these monster perennials have reached full height and are producing spectacular blooms.

These perennials tower from 5-6 feet for Rudbeckia subtomentosa to up to 7 feet for Silphium (Cupplant) and Coreopsis tripteris.


Silphium perfoliatum produces masses of yellow daisy-like blooms. Bees rely on these for late season food.


Bumblebee on Silphium.


Coreopsis tripteris: This 7 foot giant has such wonderful textural foliage. The contrast of the foliage and the sky is beautiful.

Rudbeckia subtomentosa. This perennial Black Eyed Susan grows to almost six feet. Very hardy and long lived,

you can count on it for years of bloom. As a bonus the plants emit a wonderful spicy fragrance from the leaves later in the season.