Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Harvest your Honey, Honey!

If you haven't harvested your honey, the bees have been eating it by the pounds because of the cool temperatures. I have taken all frames that are at least 75% capped and storing those that are 25% uncapped in totes with no lids so the honey can evaporate to the correct moisture content (17%). This keeps it from sugaring as fast. Eventually, all honey crystallizes. I never heat my honey because I don't want to kill the amazing enzymes. Some people say heating honey to around 100* is ok, however, I won't take any chances. After extracting, I give the sticky frames back to the bees and they polish everything up, consolidating the honey on one frame. Some of my colonies will have had the queen caged for three weeks next Monday which means no eggs or larva. After frames have been polished, the bees can be shop vacuumed anytime. This is done best when it is cold an crisp outside (early morning or evening) because the bees can't fly as much when it is cold.
Don't forget to dump dead bees in the compost for organic vermiculite! The soft organs make rich garden soil and the exoskeletons don't decompose as fast so they aerate the soil.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Responsible Fall Beekeeping

Now that July is behind us and the honey flow is nearing the end of the beekeeping season, beekeepers must continue regular hive checks after the queen is caged. Especially after the queen is caged, the bees may try to create new queens which may increase the risk of swarming. It is our responsibility to keep colonies from spending a winter in someone's attic or eaves. I continue to perform hive checks every 10 days until the day I shop-vac my bees. Right now, I'm waiting for the bees to finish capping all the honeycomb. When most of it is capped, I will rob the frames, extract, and give sticky frames back to the bees to clean up for winter storage.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Another Queen Caging Demo Coming Up!

Hi Folks,
This has got to be one of the top two best seasons for beekeeping in the 14 years I've been keeping honeybees in Fairbanks! People who have kept their colonies from swarming should reap the rewards this year! I just harvested 80 pounds of honey from two colonies out of three honey supers and expect to obtain at least another 80 pounds from the same hives in a couple weeks.

Queen caging has been going very well so far this year. The colonies that I hived in the middle of April have now all had their queen caged. Colonies hived toward the end of April and beginning of May will have queens caged on Sunday, August 5th.
Anyone who wants to observe is welcome to meet me at Botanical Gardens at 4:00pm, weather permitting.

Questions? email me at sciencebasedart@yahoo.com

Stay tuned for tips on wrapping up the season. . .

Friday, July 27, 2018

Queen Caging & Honey Robbing Demo

This year I plan to cage my queens in the last week of July. I will be doing a demonstration of this on Monday, July 30th starting at 605 Betty Street at 5:30PM, then going to Cold Climate Research and Botanical Gardens. Please bring a suit as the bees become more aggressive toward the end of the season and especially during and after being robbed.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Addressing Working Layers

An experiment was recently done here in Fairbanks to address laying workers. The experiment was a great success!

Problem: 
Laying workers are female honeybees that have developed ovaries and lay multiple eggs in each empty honeycomb cell. This occurs when a colony is queenless for an extended period of time (say a couple weeks or more). All worker eggs are unfertilized and become drones if they make it entirely through the metamorphosis. This is very undesirable because the comb becomes drone comb and who wants a colony full of drones?

Solution:
Cage the queen.
Take all frames that have no cells with multiple eggs out of the hive and brush the bees off both sides over the hive. Store them in cool, indoor storage.
Lay a white queen or king-sized sheet out on the ground at least 100 feet away from the hive.
Take all frames with bees and walk over to the sheet.
Brush the bees off of each frame onto the sheet.
Hang the caged queen in the middle of the top box of the hive.
Release the queen a couple days later.
Perform a complete hive check in a week to 10 days.
The colony should be rid of the laying workers because they shouldn't return to the colony with workers who have not developed ovaries.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Honey Harvesting and Queen Caging

Harvesting Honey
It is tempting to start taking honey now, however, we are right in the middle of the honey flow. I wait until the first week of August at the earliest to start harvesting honey.
I take one frame of capped honey at a time, brush off all the bees and walk to a Rubbermaid tote at least 30 feet away from the hive, brushing off any bees trying to stay on the frame. I quickly lift the lid off the tote and gently place the frame in the tote, replacing the lid as quickly as possible. Some bees will get into the tote and they can be released before extraction. Once all the capped frames are removed from the hive, I replace any empty space with other frames to keep the bees from building burr comb in those spaces. If I can eliminate the entire box I will. After extracting the frames, I give them back to the bees to be cleaned up. Some years I will be able to harvest two to three times.
I do have a two-frame manual extractor for rent $25 per day. It comes with all the uncapping tools, a gated bucket, and stainless steel double sieve. Please call to set up a time to pick up the extraction equipment. 907-460-6050

Caging Queens
For beekeepers who are not wintering over bees, queens must be caged 21-24 days before the end of the season to ensure all brood has hatched prior to the final honey harvest. This ensures the honey has no eggs and larva in it.

This year I plan to cage my queens in the last week of July. I will be doing a demonstration of this on Monday, July 30th starting at 605 Betty Street at 5:30PM, then going to Cold Climate Research,  and Botanical Gardens. Please bring a suit as the bees become more aggressive toward the end of the season and especially after being robbed.
I am gathering up the queen cages now so I have them ready. I use a piece of wine cork for the queen cage lid to ensure my queens cannot escape and start laying eggs again. Caged queens are placed in the top box between two frames in the middle of the hive. I make sure the bees can feed the queen through the queen cage and the queen can breathe. Her pheromones keep the colony happy until the end of the season.

Any questions? Please post and I will respond.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Adding Honey Supers & Queen Trouble

Hello Folks,
We are halfway through the 2018 beekeeping season.

Adding Honey Supers
I will be adding medium honey supers over the next two weeks. I no longer use a queen excluder so the bees don't have a barrier to storing nectar in the super comb. At first, the queen may lay some brood in the middle frames however with two brood boxes under the supers, most of the brood is laid in those. June is the month notorious for swarming so I am meticulously checking my hives every 10 days to remove queen cells.

Queen Trouble?
If you lose a queen this late in the season the best thing to do is let the bees create their own queen so don't remove queen cells until you have determined you have a queen. You can physically see the queen or see eggs to determine a queen exists. It's really too late to re-queen and the chances an established colony will accept a new queen is pretty slim. I just did a hive check with Peggy out in North Pole because she was quite sure one of her five colonies was queenless. We checked all the comb for eggs and found no eggs, some larva, lots of pupa, and more than ten queen cells. We determined all five colonies had plenty of drones for successfully fertilizing a new queen. Peggy chose the most mature queen cell in its pupa stage and we destroyed all other competing queen cells. We hope to perform a hive check in ten days to find a new queen, new eggs, and larva. I will give a report after we do the check.

I have tried to re-queen my top bar hive twice this year and the bees would not accept a new queen. I expect this colony to die off within the next couple weeks.

When local beekeepers are out of queens I like to order extras from https://www.koehnen.com/

https://www.koehnen.com/queens

Keep Grass and Weeds Short in Front of Hives!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Ant Problems?

If you discover ants in your hive or near your hive you can sprinkle cinnamon around the base of the hive. Cinnamon is water soluble so you will have to keep repeating this. Another thing to do is place your hive in the middle of a kiddie pool on foundation bricks. The ants will drown on their journey into your hive. Make sure to put rocks, moss, and twigs into the pool to keep the bees from drowning and keep your eye on the level of water especially after a hard rain. The water level should be kept about a quarter inch or less deep.