Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shop Vacuuming My Bees

Today I began the painful process of shop-vacuuming my bees.  I am vacuuming a couple hives at a time in the early morning or later evening when it's too cold for the bees to forage.  Later, in Jan. or Feb. I will pull all the equipment inside the garage and clean it up.  Fall is far too busy to try to clean up all the beekeeping equipment along with harvesting.  In the last week I've canned 4 cases of quart-size greenbeans, 33 quarts & 14 pints of pickled beets and 96 pints of sourkraut.  The root cellar is all cleaned out and the doors are open so that any extra moisture is expelled.  The carrot and potato bins are out on the lawn getting bleached by the sun.  In a couple weeks we will dig around 2 ton of potatoes and dig up all our carrots to store them in the root cellar.  The potatoes will be stored in wooden bins and the carrots will be layered in dry river silt.  We even found some carrots left over from last year that are still good to eat.  Amazing how the Lord gives us everything we need!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Storing Beekeeping Equipment for the winter

I store my hives right where they've been all summer.  I place a ratchet strap around each hive vertically.  Then I use the screen that was a part of the original box that they were shipped up here in to staple over both openings.  I also put a queen excluder between the bottom board and the bottom brood box.  This ensures that mice, shrews, wild bees, etc. do not enter the hive and eat the wax comb during the winter.  Another great place to store your hives is in a cold storage shed. 

Wrapping Up the Season!!!

I only had two colonies out of eight that really rallied in the past two weeks.  Together, I estimate they have brought in about 60 more pounds of honey.  We'll see when I extract the frames.  Provided our queens haven't escaped their cages or our workers have created any new queens that somehow miraculously got fertilized enough to start laying, we should be very close to wrapping up our season!!!  I have already taken 99% of the honey.  When I extract, I will give the "sticky" frames back to the bees to clean up.  This will make them very happy.  Then I will put my sugar feeder back into each hive and fill it with 1:1 Sugar/Water every few days.  They will hopefully draw out any comb from bare foundations.  When I feel like I'm ready to be done with beekeeping for the season, I will put some water into my husband's shopvac and either early in the AM or later in the PM (when it's cold to ensure all the bees are inside the hive and not out foraging) I will vacuum the bees.  I will then tape off the end of the hose and leave the bees in the shopvac overnight (24-36 hours) to ensure they are all dead and none fly back out.  This is a sad time!!  I then dump the organic vermiculite into my compost for next springs nutrient-rich compost.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


To All You Honey Seekers,

I just got into some of my hives today and discovered what seems to be a late honeyflow!!!  This is exciting!!!  I also went up to Keith and Svetlana Nuss' home this afternoon to find they have what I estimate to be between 5 and 8 gallons of honey.  They started out with bare foundation this season and took my class in March.  I would give them class champion if I were a judge at the fair!!!  Now that we are having a real summer, I won't be so worried about the bees eating all the honey but I will be carefully looking for queen cells since the queens are all caged and the workers want a laying queen.  When it drops off cold, then we will be pulling any final honey supers.  I do have a manual extractor you can rent for $20.00 per day.  It comes with a stainless steel strainer, decapping forks and a decapping knife. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Science-Based Art Classes Are Starting soon!

I still have three spaces available in Botany this fall.  Classes start on August 21st. To reserve your student's space, please contact me at sciencebasedart@yahoo.com.

Friday, August 10, 2012

End of Season Tips!!!

If the weather drops off cold or rainy, I will put a pollen patty across the top of my frames in each hive.  I will pull out several pollen patties now so that if I need them, they will already be room temperature and I won't have to wait for them to thaw out.  Chances are pretty good that your bees are eating most of their honey.  If you have any frames with capped honey, I recommend you go ahead and rob them now because if you wait, you won't have any honey to harvest.  Don't take frames with eggs, larva, or pupa.  Go ahead and let them hatch out before robbing them.  Keep in mind the bees can get grouchy this time of year since the pollens are declining, it's getting colder, and especially after you rob honey.   Be sure to zip up your veil completely and use ductape over the top of the zipper.  Wearing a hoody and sweat pants under your suit is a great precaution, also. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Queen Caging

Finally, I caged the last of my queens yesterday with the help of a couple foreign exchange students  (One from Poland and one from Norway).  We have two others staying with us for a week (one from Italy and one from Israel).  They have really enjoyed learning about honeybees.  I am still killing any drone comb or queen cells as I'm trying to prepare for the end of the beekeepers calendar.  In three weeks, I will pull any honey supers or brood frames with honey in the corners so I can extract.  I will save some of the brood frames for insulation next spring.  It really hasn't been as good a year as I had predicted.  I had hoped to get between 40 and 80 gallons of honey this year.  My top bar hive swarmed and I have one hive that is queenless.  Out of 8 colonies, I have three that have really done quite well and one of those will produce around 124 lbs. (10 gallons) while the other two I estimate, about 5-7 gallons.  If it was your first season as a new beekeeper and you did not do well, don't get discouraged!!  Every year is different.  We had a pretty cool summer with quite a bit of rain.  The bees have eaten a lot of their honey during rainy days.  I will let you know when I plan on harvesting the last of my honey. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hi Folks, I made a visit out to Fred Tuttle's hive today.  We caught his unmarked queen on the second walk through.  I am thoroughly impressed because he had a swarm this summer, caught it and succesfully re-introduced it to its original colony.  Wow!!!  Also, I enjoyed the beautiful veggie garden that Fred and his wife have grown this year!!  I'm still trying to find the time to cage my own queens as our lives have been hectic since my mother-in-law passed away a week ago.  Blessings to you all!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Caging Queens!!!

It is now time to cage my queens!  Sometime here in the next week I will be gently coaxing my queens to re-enter their queen cages.  Sometimes this can be a difficult task.  First of all, it can be hard to find my queen.  Once I find her, she really has no interest in being locked up in a small cell so she will often strongly avoid my plans for her.  I will keep working at it patiently.  Eventually, she will get tired and crawl right in.  Sometimes I very gently pick her up and place her in the box.  Be sure to have a cork wittled down to the proper size (to fit into the entrance of the queen box) and a small strip of duct tape will be handy as long as you do not cover up the screen.  Remember, our queens need to breath.  Once you have successfully captured your queen, place the box back into the hive between two frames being careful to have the mesh available to the workers so they can feed their beloved queen.  Within 21 days, you will have no eggs or larva and it's time to extract your golden honey (unless the queen escapes). If you have any questions or need assistance, please give me a call and I will get back to you as soon as possible.  This is the bussiest time of the season and today is my first day at the Farmer's Market.  If you want to chat bees, come by the market. Blessings!! Dawn