Monday, July 24, 2017

Queen Caging

I plan on caging my queens and robbing honey this coming Thursday evening 8/3/17. If you want to observe, meet me at my town house at 605 Betty Street with your bee suit at 5:15PM.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Harvesting Your Honey, Honey!

It is very, very tempting to take honey frames out of hives prior to them being fully ready to extract and store. When honey frames aren't fully "capped" (meaning part of the honeycomb has a thin layer of wax sealing the honey into the cells of the comb but some of the cells aren't sealed with wax yet) the honey will crystallize much faster. This is caused when the moisture content is too high (>17% - 18%) because the bees haven't finished fanning to dehydrate the honey. Below are photos of unfinished honey frames. The only time I would harvest these at this stage would be because the season is over and I know the bees don't have time to finish capping frames.

Please read the following website for more information.

 Unfinished honey frame
 Unfinished honey frame
  Unfinished honey frame
 Finished honey comb:

 Finished honey comb:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Most Aggressive Bees in 13 years!

I think this is the most aggressive year of beekeeping I have had in 13 years!

I am bringing my smoker and using it for all hive checks for the rest of the season. Nearly every time I've done hive checks of late, I've been stung right through my bee suit. Today, I received a call from one of my beekeeping colleagues to hear he was stung 10 times through his suit. Quite a while later, after he had his suit off, a guard bee hunted him down and stung him in the face. One way to minimize stings is to complete hive checks during the middle of the day because many of the bees are foraging and there's a lower population in the hive. I am carrying an epi pen as well as Benedryl capsules with me. When I get stung I seek out a plantain weed, select a leaf, chew on it a little bit, and place it over the sting. 

Smoking the bees before a hive check

Plantain - Wonder Weed

Saving Pollen Frames for 2018

I save one pollen frame for each colony I plan on keeping for the next season. This allows me to provide each colony with local pollens for next spring.

I put the frames in my freezer to preserve them. This keeps them from getting moldy.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Another way to re-queen a colony.

Another way to re-queen a colony anytime in the season is to take a frame with one well-developed queen cell from another colony, brush off all the bees gently over the hive and place it into the queenless hive. Hopefully, when the new queen hatches, there will be enough drones ready for the day they have all been waiting for. This is how I was able to re-queen one of my queenless hives on the Chena River this year. The new queen is laying beautiful patterns of eggs and I estimate obtaining about 5-7 gallons from this re-queened colony this season.

I decided to do a quick release on one of my Buckfast colonies by the Chena River. The new Carniolan queen took to the air and flew away. I left the area and returned two days later to find the queen in the hive laying eggs. That was about 10 days ago. Today's hive check proved to be very successful as multiple frames are now full of eggs, larva, pupa, and honey. I estimate this colony will produce between 4 and 6 gallons of honey this season.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Queenless Hives

At this stage of the beekeeping season, when a hive becomes queenless, the best thing to do is to combine it with another colony.

1. Put a couple sheets of newsprint over the brood boxes of a strong/healthy colony.
2. Cut several two-inch slits in the paper.
3. Place the brood boxes of the queenless colony on top of the newsprint.
4. Put a couple medium honey supers on top of the queenless brood boxes.
5. Place inner and outer lids on top of the medium honey supers.

It takes the bees a couple days to eat through the paper. This method works because it allows the bees to be combined gradually rather than throwing two colonies together suddenly.

It is better to make use of all of the foragers from the queenless hive rather than letting them slowly die out. Why not put their amazing skills to work and make one strong colony with a higher population?