Sunday, August 31, 2008

Feeding and More Honey

Beekeeping journal for Saturday, 8/30/08.

Got wind through the beekeeping grapevine that due to this summer's severe drought, it is a good idea to start the fall feeding early. We heated some water and mixed it, one part water to two parts sugar, and allowed it to cool. Put it in a large mason jar and poked some small nail holes in the metal lid.

Took it out to our hive, where we had topped the hive with a flat board with a mason jar top-sized hole and inverted the jar, drippy side down. It looks like it won't drip until they go up to seek the sugar water to put it in their comb for storage.

Then put an empty hive body box around the mason jar and put the hive's telescoping lid on top.

We'll put up some pictures of the feeder later...were in a bit of a rush when we added it to the hive yesterday.

In other news, went over to coworker Pamela's house in the afternoon and helped her harvest a shallow of honey. Much fun. We ended up bringing more bees in the house than during previous harvests, but it was easy enough to catch them one by one and escort them back outside.

I'm becoming quite the honey collecting pro. The main requirement for harvesting honey is to not mind getting a little sticky.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Today's Progress

We took a whack at the leaning tower of bees today. The girls had completely cleaned out the honey comb from our latest harvest, so we took that box off the top.

The second box from the top was the shallow from our first honey harvest. It had some uncapped nectar here and there and two frames of capped honey. We put the two capped frames in the freezer, and moved the rest of the super to the party porch for the bees to clean out.

So...we're down to three deeps. We want to consolidate the deeps into two for winter, which will take some figuring out. We explored the top two boxes today....they both have some capped honey and some nectar and some empty spaces.

We're working on a game plan to get the best of the frames from these two top deeps into one deep and to put the rest in storage.

Today we just angered the bees, doing our explorations with a cloud of really unhappy bees buzzing around our heads. One bee followed me all over the yard as I put things away. I finally lost her when I stepped into the garage for a minute.

ABK had one bee still sitting on her back when she returned to the house. This little buzzy lady was escorted back outside.

Still no stings, which seems miraculous on days like today.

I fear that we are making mistakes left and right, but we learn more each day.

Today's note to self: we didn't use the fume board to get all the bees out of the top two supers before we put them on the back porch. There weren't that many bees, and our first thought was that they could just fly back to the hive and take the residual honey with them.

It was only in later reflection that I realized these particular girls had probably never left the hive. Younger bees work the inside of the hive....older bees forage. If these are younger bees, they may not find their way home.

We'll be more careful when we take a deep off in a few days.

We'll start feeding soon. I'll probably give them back some of the last honey we harvested, and feed them sugar water throughout the winter. The drought has been hard on the local bees, as well as most everything else.

It takes extra care with the smoker when all the grass is crunchy and brown. Don't want to set it on the ground and start a fire.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Flying Solo

After slinging out the honey, it was time to return the super to the hive. The bees will clean out any residual honey, and we will remove the super again in a few days to put it in storage for the winter. The brave assistant bee keeper decided this return was a one woman job, so she suited up, fired up the smoker, loaded the wheelbarrow and headed out.

ABK reports the bees had figured out that we'd robbed them, and some flew angrily at her when she lifted the cover. But all was well. Still no stings.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August 12....a darker shade of honey

The harvest was easy peasie this helps to know what you are doing. We pulled off a full shallow super, carted it back to the house in the wheelbarrow and slung it out in the extractor with no difficulty.
Definitely darker in shade, but still oh so sweet. The bees are on to us though. At one point the assistant beekeeper told me to look at the windows of the "honey house." There were at least 20 cranky bees bouncing off the screens. They lost interest after I closed the glass windows, but for a while I thought we were going to have to abandon using the back door to come in and out.

Isn't that pretty? Will show bottles soon. We've let the honey filter and settle. Will probably bottle it tomorrow.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Late Summer Spiders

The assistant beekeeper (ABK) has told me for years that late summer in western NC brings huge spiders. She calls them "late summer spiders." This beauty is living amongst the tomatoes in our garden. I nearly stuck my face (nose to spider) right in the web today while pursuing giant red tomatoes for lunch.
When they are not on my face (and preferably not in my house), I do love spiders and other bugs. They are interesting, diverse, beautiful, and so frequently quite useful. My late summer friend is protecting my 'maters from invaders, and me from mosquitoes.
I know folks come here (blogwise) looking for bees, but the amateur Swammerdam just loves the bugs in general. Updates soon on bees...they have been minding their own business for weeks now with no interference from their keepers. We've kept a basin of water near the hive for these hot, thirsty days. And in return, our garden has produced and produced and produced with the help of our cheerful pollinators. The neighbor's crab apple tree, which I never even noticed before, is jam smack covered in fruit.