Saturday, August 27, 2016

Shop Vacuuming Bees

Today we are recycling honeybees. It has been so warm that we have been waiting for a cool day to do this but we just don't want to wait anymore because workers can develop ovaries and start laying eggs. How can you tell if a worker is laying? You will find multiple eggs in cells. The problem with this is that these are unfertilized and will all become drones. The comb becomes drone comb and next year's queen will lay drone eggs in all the cells that became drone cells. We filled our shop vacuum half way with water, filled the generator with gas and when we are done will dump the dead bees in our compost because they are some of the best vermiculite in the world. Their soft organs become rich soil and their exoskeletons don't decompose as fast so they aerate soil beautifully. It is 53* here in downtown Fairbanks.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Harvesting Honey

Many folks started harvesting honey frames before last week's steady rain. If you haven't started taking honey, now is the time to remove any frames with completely capped honey cells. Honey frames can be stored at 60 - 70 * in a rubber maid tote with the lid cracked. What I like to do is go ahead and extract as much as I can to give the sticky frames back to the bees. They will consolidate the honey into cells in one area of the hive which gives you more to extract when you are ready. My queens will have been caged for three weeks this coming weekend and anytime after that I can rob what is left of the honey and extract it. Then I will give those frames back and about a week to ten days later I will shop-vacuum my bees to recycle them in my compost. This is a sad day however their soft body parts will make rich soil for next years garden and their exoskeletons will be the best organic vermiculite on Earth.

The bees are eating a lot of honey right now because of cooler temperatures and rainy days. They can eat multiple pounds of honey in a few days.
If you end up taking some frames with uncapped honey such as this frame to the left, you can let the honey evaporate for a couple weeks and it will become the correct thickness which decreases the speed of sugaring. When honey is not the correct moisture content, it tends to crystallize much quicker. The proper moisture content is 17% - 18%.

Some frames will have honey in the corners after all the brood has hatched out. These can be extracted as well. Some beekeepers keep two of the brood frames with honey to insulate next year's colony instead of using foam insulated follower frames.

It is important to keep the boxes full of frames after they have been removed from the hive so the bees don't create burr comb in the empty space.

If you don't have extra frames to replace the removed honey frames then you may want to extract in the next day or so and get the sticky frames back into the hive as soon as possible.

Friday, July 29, 2016

If you caged your queen(s), watch for queen cells! HONEY EXTRACTION

The first several days after a queen is caged, worker bees will try to create a new queen by manufacturing royal jelly and placing a bed of it in multiple queen cups. Then they drag an egg out of a cell to plant it into the jellified queen cup. The last thing you want is a new, unmarked queen to start laying eggs again. Remove all queen cells until all eggs have metamorphized into larva. After this, you shouldn't see anymore viable queen cells.

Along with the Angels, the Longs, and the O'Learys, we robbed two hives at Plant Kingdom last week. We ended up with eight gallons from this initial harvest. It has been several years since we have had such light honey. It is nearly transparent.

The Farmer's Market was bustling this Wednesday!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Queen Caging Demonstration this Saturday!

Hi Folks, Tomorrow (7/23/16) at 3pm I will be caging two queens up at plant kingdom.
Please come for a free demo if you wish. Call me on my cell if you have questions about directions.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Honeyflow at Its Peak!

Have you noticed how heavy your frames and boxes are getting? We are at the peak of the honeyflow now. I will start robbing honey from the supers that don't have any brood in them today to get it extracted and to the market. Honey must be capped (sealed with wax) to be the right moisture content. If the honey is harvested before it is sealed by the bees the honey will tend to sugar (become granular) much faster. I plan on caging my queens in the next week or so. If you want to join me for this free demonstration for those who took my class, please email me at and let me know. I will email a confirmation to you with a date, time. I have seen many hives this summer and the best one was the O'Leary family's in Aurora Subdivision. For starting out with bare foundation, I was very impressed with the amount of drawn-out honeycomb, brood production and honey production. Having a Rubbermaid tote to store frames in during the harvest is vital. I put my tote anywhere from 10 to 20 feet from the hive, leaving the lid on. I rob one completely drawn-out and capped honey frame at a time using my bee brush to remove any lingering bees before placing the frame into the tote.

Rubbermaid Tote Image

If you need to rent my extractor please email me. It costs $25 per day and includes 3 decapping forks, 1 hotknife, 1 coldknife, 1 stainless steel double sieve (strainer), 1 - 5 gallon bottling bucket, and a long spatula. If you want to order bottles, now is the time to do so. I order mine from Dadant or Mann Lake Ltd.

Please don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions:

Harvesting Your Honey - An Important Message from Steve Victors

The summer seems to be going well and we are now at the time to start planing our harvest if you have not already done so.  As many of you know, many beekeepers harvest in early August and I thought that I would send out this message explaining why that is:
The sweet spot for harvest is timing the fluctuations of two changing factors.  The first to consider is the hive population as it relates to the metabolic demand of the hive.  To do this we have to look at the hive as a single organism and examine the factors involved.  Factor one is the population of the adult bees in the hive and factor two is the amount of brood being raised at the moment.  Metabolic demand of the adult bees is dependent upon the temperature of the bees themselves and the warmer they are the more food they will consume.  In addition the more bees that there are the more food that they will consume also.  At the end of July, both the temperature and the population have reached their peak.  The metabolic demand of the adult bees in the hive is highest at the end of July.  This situation lasts until high populations begin to diminish through winter attrition.  Remember that this is TEMPERATURE dependent and as winter sets in, the bees become colder and the metabolic rate slows down.  This can be described graphically as a flattened or truncated bell curve.  (A bell curve with a flattened top.) The flattened top stretches through the month of June, July and August.  

In looking at the other factor (brood,) it is generally an accepted rule that it takes a frame of honey to raise a frame of brood.  Brood raising increases during a nectar flow, and since our flow runs from late June through August, brood raising is heaviest at this time.  With these two factors combined, metabolic demand of the hive is highest during the month of July and into August.  

Let's turn our attention to the nectar flow.  Nectar flow can be described as a bell curve starting in late April and ending in late September.  As many of you know, the bell curve starts at zero and ends in zero.  The peak of this bell curve is in mid-July.  If one simply overlays the bell curve of nectar flow on top of the bell curve of metabolic demand, one can easily see that the portion of the nectar flow curve that stands above the metabolic curve represents our honey crop.  

It is interesting to note that the metabolic demand curve does not move much from year to year.  The nectar flow curve shifts right or left depending on the season and environmental conditions.  It can widen out or it can shrink back down.  

The absolute PERFECT time to harvest is where these two graphs cross each other.  Since the nectar curve shifts right or left, widens or contracts, traditionally this curve crosses between the first and the tenth of August.  You will note in looking at your imagined curve that there is still a nectar flow going on.  After the crossing of these two lines, the metabolic demand is exceeding what the bees are bringing in.  The wise beekeeper in picking their harvest date will focus on the factors that shift the graph right or left.  We are now approaching the three week from August mark.  

Now is the time to decide how to manage your queens if you haven't already done so.  There are many styles of queen management.  I prefer to have no brood in my extracting room.  My queen management style is to put the queen in the bottom box of the hive with an excluder over the top of this box so that in three weekstime there is no brood above the excluder.  I do this because I want young brood hatching out in preparation for winter.  For those that are not planning on wintering, placing the queen in a cage can eliminate ALL brood in the hive in three weeks time.  

I do not advocate removing or killing the queen.  Loss of pheromones results in lower productivity of the hive and emergency queen cells that make end of season management more difficult.  This will also reduce your honey crop.  

For those beekeepers in the Anchorage and Valley areas, you should know that our extracting services will be operational, and we will be accepting your boxes from the end of July to the first of September.  After the first of September, we generally break down our equipment for the end of the season.  We have commercial grade uncapping machines, several large extractors and a fairly efficient filtering system.  We run the honey in individual batches, and the honey return to the customer is the same honey that arrives in their boxes.  If you choose to use our services, it will be necessary for you to manage your queens so that there is no brood present.  Our uncapping machine does not differentiate between a frame of brood and a frame of honey.  The frames are loaded into our uncapper one at a time by hand, and we are able to pull frames aside that have brood on them.  These frames must be uncapped by hand, and extra charges will be incurred.  If you wish to provide your own buckets, that is something we can accommodate.  A full schedule of charges and requirements are listed on our website on the Services page.  
We hope that this letter finds you well and that your harvests are abundant,
Steve and Donna

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Used Honey Extractor for Sale!

Kim Griffith has a used 3 frame manual extractor for sale. She bought it just a couple years ago from Steve Victors. She is asking $250.00. (907)385-8612

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Time to start using my smoker!

I did a hive check later in the evening tonight with my friend, Catherine. We both got stung. This is why I try to complete hive checks at mid-day on sunny days. Now that my colony populations have at least tripled, I will start using my smoker. I got stung five times tonight.