Thursday, June 26, 2008

The end is near :(

I got the honey back from my extractor helper - 3 more quarts. This honey is darker than what I have gotten up to now. We'll see how it tastes.

I put the empty frames back in the hives. I only found one full frame of honey that I was willing to take - this may be the last for the season.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Honey and mix-um up

Into the hives again. It is the end of the nectar flow in this area so I also decided to take a look all the way down in the hives to see what was going on.

Hive #2 & 3. I took one frame from hive #2 and four frames from hive #3. When I went through all the boxes I found that the bottom box in both hives were essentially empty. They had pulled comb but not much of anything in them. So in both cases I swapped boxes 1 and 2 and put the brood filled box on the bottom. I hope this makes sense, I'll check with some of the experts and see what they say.

Hive #1 has essentially mixed brood in with all of the honey. There is a lot of honey in the box but I am not willing to sacrifice the brood to get it.

Hive #4 is still a small batch of bees, they are still mostly in one medium box. If they do not start to grow I will probably need to combine this hive with one of the others at some point.

From last weeks honey run - we got 6 quarts of honey! All of this is now in cute little bears.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bears and more honey!

I took the honey that we had been temporarily storing in quart jars and put them in 8 oz. plastic bears. I bought a case of 396 bears and after today am glad I bought that many! The jars I had on hand filled up over 30 bears.

I also went into the hives an removed 8 more medium frames of honey. Probably two of them could have stayed, but I pulled them first before getting to the heavy ones. One of the frames I cut out of the frame for my family to use for comb honey - yummy!

For the record, I got five of the frames from hive #2. The heavy ones were down in the second box The other three frames came from Hive #3, again down a box. I didn't get anything off of Hive #1, but there was a mess of brood in there. I think they are a little off normal timing after the swarms. I also took a look in Hive #4 and found that it had not changed or grown much, it may still be a little early. We'll keep watching it and see what happens.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bottom Boards

I have two different bottom boards (the boards on the bottom:) on my hives. Simple solid boards and screened bottom boards. Supposedly the screened bottom boards are good for two reasons: they allow for better circulation in the hive and they allow any "mites" to fall through to the ground and therefore it is more difficult for them to climb back on the bees. Here is a picture of my two hives on the stand with two different bottoms.

The one on the right is solid and the one on the left is screened. Notice that the bees are huddled near the entrance on the right - they are actually trying to cool off the hive in the blistering heat we had today. So - it looks like the screened bottom board is working!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

4 more quarts = 5 more stings!

Well I have to fess up and admit that I have not used the smoker the last two times in the hive. It is a pain for me to get going and I have read that it may cause the honey to taste smoky. But, of course, this could be the reason I have become a human dart board.

For the records I got 4 more quarts of honey from the last pull. This means from Hive #1 I have gotten a total of 6 quarts of honey and from Hives #2 and #3 about a quart a piece. This is actually pretty amazing to me as folks had lowered my expectations to the point that I thought I might not be geting any this year.

Fortunately, I have a near infinite supply of quart jars. I have ordered some plastic bears to put the honey in - it will be our gift of choice this year if we get enough to go around :)

Back to the hives - In hive #1 I had put in two medium frames were I took out the deeps to extract the honey. On the bottom of one of the medium frames they had pulled the most beautiful comb in just four days! They had it partially filled with honey. This is were I got in trouble with the bees. I was afraid to shake the bees off too aggressively for fear that this comb would break off and fall into the hive. So I decided to just brush them off. They didn't like this one but. Three of them got me on the back of the hand again simultaneously. I yelped and jumped a few feet all the time brushing the rest of the bees off of the comb - it would have made a good video :). If I had been smarter, I probably should have just cut the comb off the bottom of the frame and shook the remaining bees in the box.

I got into similar trouble in Hive #3 when replacing the emply comb and got stung two more times on the same hand.

OK, so smoke next time and minimal brushing.

Again, fortunately, the ill effects from these stings have been nonexistent after the first 30 second - ouch. But the honey is goooood.