BEEKEEPING IN THE NORTHEAST - An account of my beekeeping, not a treatise of expertise, but for friends & family who wish to keep bees vicariously through me, and for the occasional apiarist passer-by.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Honey Harvest

My girls came through....5 gallons and I only pulled about 1/8 of what i saw capped! Pretty amazing experience.

A long time beekeeping friend who has stopped for awhile to pursue other talents, lent us her old extractor. We had a bit of a time putting it together but it turned out so well in the end.

Nice to save an old machine from the dump.

Pulled four medium frames from a honey super on top of my 10 frame hive in our garden.

Pulled three shallow frames each from honey supers on top of two hives on the hayfield.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Adding Supers

July 1st, Sunday, I spent the day preparing all I would need to add a super on each of the hives. Shallows, except for a medium 10 frame on my backyard hive that is much deserving. Funny, they are in the most shade of all and seem to be the most robust hive.

I wrote in my bee journal the details but basically it was just routine, with this exception: The stream-side hive was creating some sort of rope of bees from the top of the hive lid, through the empty shallow I use for placing feed, and attaching themselves to the inner cover. When I took off the lid, they dropped in a plop to the grass. I did not see any evidence of the queen and they had not built up any wax on the lid...however, when I went back to pick up the hive pieces I'd left out so the bees could find their own way home, there was one single bee left and actually stuck with propolis to the lid! Was this on purpose? What were they doing? They almost looked like a swarm but too small. It took a long time for them to get out of the grass and move on. - I realize now after going to the organic beekeeping conference that the bees were building their own comb. There was a natural start to this on the inner cover at the end of the rope and pollen was already stored in it. They were telling me it was time for a super. In the future I will try letting them draw their own comb.

The middle hive was again not very robust. I could have left the super off but a nectar flow is on....none of the hives ate the syrup I left a few days ago...and just thought I'd error on the prudent side. I'll go in and take a good look in a week or two.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Greek Bees

Our 2012 trip to Greece:

Honey Bees at the Acropolis

Honey Bees on Crete

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spring Activities 2012

Reviewing this book for my spring bee count. I have four thriving hives all happily bringing in pollen from the wonderful assortment spring brings to our neck of the woods. My goldenrod hive is rather small, but all are bustling. This is the first time I've ever purchased package bees...all Italian...and will never do it again! What a traumatic experience for me and the bees! Maybe because I've always enjoyed from the beginning the gentle transition from nuc to hive.

I started the season helping out at the Forest & Farm Fair booth for the NH Beekeepers Association. It is always so much fun to talk to other beekeepers. We are a humble lot....knowing the longer you keep bees the more there is to learn. I learned there about a Bee School course I had to take so all this activity was accomplished before a family spring trip, my first time abroad. The week after I returned it was time to pick up the bees and the timing for our particular area was perfect: 1st week of may. The dandelions had hardly shown themselves and now, May 18, they are in full bloom for my girls.

  • Bees installed May 4th 2012 - about 10,000 bees. Should take 21 - 25 days for new brood to start their lives.
  • Orientation flights start as their duties take them toward the entrance...maybe two weeks.
  • Queen lays 1,000 to start to 2,000 a day as she matures. Then maybe 1,000 new bees a day as the original bees die off.

That's ten days for a new 10,000 bees so should not see much increase until after the 10th day....then they should be bubbling out the hive. A super shallow frame can hold about 1,900 bees per side so maybe about 3,000 brood on each hive deep frame? Need to work on my math skills.....but exciting to anticipate are the newbies....or new bees.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Winter Reading - The Honey Trail

I've been enjoying the book "The Honey Trail" by Grace Pundyk, an Australian author who traveled around the world looking for the source of the honey on our supermarket shelves. She has a way of taking you right along with her from the jungles of Borneo to a boardroom in is fascinating informative reading. I had to stop reading now and then to give in to the feeling I should be joining her in a spoonful of honey or a cup of honey sweetened tea along the way.

A question was posted here about where I had learned that High Fructose Corn Syrup is bad for bees. HFC is spoken about in this book as a byproduct of GM or Genetically Modified mono crops, in this case Corn. The systemic pesticides in GM corn not only effects the honey bee that forages on it, but also carries over into HFC products. Commercial beekeepers routinely use HFC to feed bees. It is one of the highest probable causes of Honey Bee troubles. The largest colony losses are found in bees foraging on GM crops. Of course, there are many man made factors influencing the demise of honey bees around the world. I had no idea what big business Honey is. Pundyk does a great job of explaining it all to the honey lover in all of us.

The Honey Trail by Grace Pundyk