Saturday, February 13, 2010

Winter, Winter...Go Away

December 2009 - February 2009
Time for us to sit back, cross our fingers and pray that our bees make it through the winter months. Our work is done. In the winter bees form "clusters" that spread across several combs and are just under the stored food. Bees within the cluster generate heat by flexing their muscles, while cold, immobile bees on the outside of the cluster are periodically pushed to the center where they are warmed, rotating with the warm bees who are move to the outside. The temperature, at the center of the cluster will remain at approximately 93-95 degrees.
During warm weather periods the bees must break their cluster periodically and gorge on honey. It is this honey that provides the energy for warming the cluster interior. It is also necessary for the bees to take "cleansing" flights during the winter, as bees will not bathroom in the hive.
They will also tidy up and many older bees will be found dead outside the hive entrance.
On warm days you should see bees exiting and entering the hive, and if tapped on, your hives should give off a "BUZZ" sound.

Time To Feed The Bees

September 15, 2009
Time once again to start feeding the bees their sugar/water solution. It's our job to help the bees fatten up their winter stores. They need approximately 60 lbs. of honey to last the winter. Granted even this does not guarantee their survival...but we will do our part and give them a good head start, feeding right into October until they no longer take the solution. FEED, FEED, FEED!

Honey Makes The World Go Round

September 8, 2009
Being newbies, we weren't quite sure what to expect out of our first Fall harvest. Many beekeepers in our area reported having a poor honey yield. I guess we were an exception, our first harvest produced about 125 lbs. of delicious, nutritious golden honey. In fact, we ran out of honey jars. We also only extracted frames that were completely capped and gave back to the bees many frames that were partially honey filled. We were thrilled to say the least and very proud of our "girls". We also came to really appreciate and value the bees as vital beings. (The BEE MOVIE is right when it showed the bees getting very upset at humans for stealing all their hard work!)
Needless to say, pure honey is by far much better than store bought honey. Anyone who hasn't tasted pure honey will be pleasantly surprised....and will never buy anything but pure honey again.
One of the reasons is that pure honey is not heated (therefore it will crystallize over a long period of time) but it will also not loose any of the health benefits that your store bought honey does.
Research benefits of eating pure honey and I am sure you will be amazed at all the different things honey can do for your body!


September 4, 2009
Time to harvest!
Our two hives produced 6 supers of honey - one hive producing four and the other two. (It's a good idea for a new beekeeper to start with two hives - this way you can compare the two against each other).
We purchsed a used and older model extracter (cheap) and completely recoated it with a rubber food safe sealant before using it.
Each frame of honey was decapped using a hand decapping fork, since this being our first year we didn't really care about collecting the wax. Then frames were loaded into the extractor and spun until each frame contained only the wax comb remained. Any trace amounts of honey that is still on the frames will be fed back to the bees.
That first drop of honey was exciting to say the least. It took us most of the day, (always set aside a full day), to extract all the frames into 5 gallon, food safe buckets.

All Supered Up

Our hives, each with four supers on top of the hive bodies. Hopefull getting nice and full of delicious honey!

Busy As A Bee

August 5, 2009
The phrase, "Busy as a Bee", is an understatement. In just a few short months these girls, (yes, all worker bees are female), have been extremely buzy....the population in each hive has gone from 10,000 to approximately 60,000...making inspections all the more fun! (Gotta love our smoker).
The bees have filled the hives with pollen stores, brood (new bees) and an ample supply of honey.
In one of the pictures you can see the bees making a "bee ladder" - quite amazing!
Time for us to get our "supers" on and start collecting the honey for us!
Our job of feeding has ended. (Never feed your bees once you have put supers on - they will make a "sugar/water honey" and not a pure honey)

Taste Like Pollen.....

July 13, 2009
A bee working the yard - great for the bee and great for the flowers!