Monday, January 10, 2011

Year 3 - How quickly they roll by

I've had a lot on my plate lately and none of it honey. Some years can be like that. I pretty much let the bees fend for themselves this past 2010. I tried to shift responsibility of the bees to my brother, but alas we neither one of us had it in us to properly take care of the little dears.

I did keep tabs on whether the hive was buzzy -- and it had been. I knew it was okay all the way into November, but I haven't had any reports since then. Guess, I'll have to bust out the boots and take a hike to the backyard.

I plan to sign up for the Bee School again this spring to reaquaint myself with the processes of working a hive.

Here's to my little bees. I'm wishing them a better year than last.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Year 2 begins

Well, I've been a not so great bee keeper so far. I hope my bees survived my inattention. I hope to do better this year. I will again attend Bee School offered by Worcester County Beekeepers.

If the bees have made it, this year will begin a new era for them. Well maybe it will take a few years to fully be expressed, because I think it takes 2-3 years for fruit trees to become productive. Do they still flower in the first year anyway? Well I bought them some new trees. Yes indeedee! Cherry trees and Apricots and Peaches. And Blueberries...8 bushes... and more more more blackberries and red rasberries and black rasberries. And I have to add strawberries to the order too...Not too late, they won't ship til end of March. If you like fruit - check out Stark Brothers

Interesting side note -well maybe it's not that interesting but- I've been reading Francis Abel Wheeler's seem's like all he ever planted on that hill was strawberries! He plowed and planted and picked strawberries. That's all that was in the one year diary except a story that involved several children and a snatched hat. This goes back away's...late 1880's? I think that was it.

Back to bee's. I found a recipe in the winter newsletter for Bee Candy, that's not candy by bees, it's candy for bees. It helps them survive the winter. I will try to make some this weekend. I hope its not too late.

That's all for now.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ever say "I'll never do that again!"?

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

I'll never ...ever... open a strong hive at 7 am in mid August without so much as a smoker. I had to run for the house. The one that hurts the most is on top of my head, but the chin selled up some and is red and round. It's Mrs Clause's chin now. Oh they got me good. Poor bees.

So, I virtually ignored the poor things all summer. It being particulary wet in this neck of the to speak, and also I have been busy with work and other pressing responsibilities. So the bees have been on their own. They probably thought they'd never see me again. Well they did see me once or twice in July when I peeked at them from a distance and in June I actually lifted the lid.

But I have yet to pull a frame out since May. Ken Warchol, Worcester County's Bee Inspector recommends checking hives once per week. - He mentioned this at the bee meeting, I was finally able to attend (I had to rearrange my schedule, but I did it.)

So why did I pull this stupid stunt? I had intended to get a honey super on the hive last weekend. But I couldn't manage it. I should have had them on from near the beginning. At the meeting yesterday I heard a new message. Use already drawn out comb--because the bees don't like to draw comb late in the season. Another oops. At least I am using pure beeswax foundation.

Anyway, I finally got over to Lagrant's in Ware, yesterday morning. I purchased already assembled supers and frames, because time is at a premium right now. Next year will be different-- I think.

After, that, I did my usual Saturday morning errands, and then ran (drove), to the meeting, only 15 minutes chair (lots really, but all occupied)...sat on the grass...lots of people(note to self: don't be late for meetings). The meeting was a very good demonstration by Ken Warchol on how to close up the hive for winter. I had to sit near back for hive demo, because I didn't think to bring a hat- so I found a shady spot and peered between peoples legs to see what was going on. One lady had obviously thought ahead and brought her own lawn chair and a hat...good thinking.

This is turning out to be a long story..., I'll shorten it up...This morning, Sunday, I went out to put the super on the strong hive. Woefully unprepared. I paid the price. I went inside, shook the bees out of my hair and put my bee gear on. Then I went back and finished the job.

I'm going to take a picture now.

Bees will be bees...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Imperfect Attentions

I finally finally finally put the second brood supers on the hives. Each hive is now two levels. But the frames are tortured wood, wire and beeswax foundation. They're very sad looking efforts...many staples and cracked perforated wax foundations...its embarassing. The good part is...the bees won't mind a bit. In fact they will take my imperfect offering and make it perfect. Perfect for their use anyway :)

They weren't too happy about being disturbed this morning. Again I'm afraid I smooshed a few hapless bees. This is a very disturbing hobby. Everytime I open the hive someone gets killed!

This morning I took the wells out and replaced the space with newly minted frames...such as they were, and I placed the new supers, each containing ten more frames atop.

I did not try to inspect the frames or look for a queen. It was too early in the morning for that, and a cool cloudy morning it was too. I know they will appreciate the new digs, but they really weren't appreciating it this morning. Two bees flew up the back of my shirt and made that quite clear.

Two more bee's followed me into the house. I one rescued from the light fixture and put it back outside, it flew away in the direction of the hive. I thought Little Bear ate the other one but Cousin Sandy found it and tried to rescue it. He put it outside, but instead of flying away it sort of fell to the ground. I guess they can't all be saved.

One thing that was quite fun to notice-- while I was in the midst of operations I pushed the frames aside, and two that had been worked together by the bees split apart and golden honey oozed out. It was pretty.

Oh, and even though I didn't look for brood or a queen each hive was buzzing with thousands more bees than I started with, so I think thats a good sign.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bee bites!

I have to tell this story. Maybe its one of those 'you had to be there' stories, but I am still chuckling over it.

I haven't been into the hives officially yet. That is, I haven't smoked them and pulled the frames for a good look-see, but I have walked up to them and peeked under the lids and put my face close to entrance to watch the ladies bringing home the pollen, etc.

This last time I was out there, my cousin stood about 15 feet from the hives. He has a strong interest in what I've been doing and has helped me this year, and so deserves a nice cut of the honey. Next year he plans to keep his own hives. --But back to the story... He stood way back and yells out 'Are they bit'ng you? Are they bit'ng you?' I guess it was the way he said it that strikes my funny bone...hee hee hee :) Anyway-- I'm still laughing.

While I was out there I saw hundreds of millions of poison ivy shoots all around the hives....possibly there weren't quite that many, but I do have some apprehension, as I am quite allergic to the stuff. Cousin Sandy says he will pull them up for me. But maybe I'd like to get a goat to eat it up. I wonder how goats and bees get along...?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I like bees.

I went to bee school. I read from the internet. I've read books, newsletters, and magazines. And the more I learn, the greater my sense of awe and respect grows for the honeybees. They have got to be the coolest creatures on the planet.

They make wax! And that isn't the coolest part. The fact that they work it and use it to not only to cradle their young, but to warehouse their perfect food (which they make themselves) is totally amazing. And that isn't the coolest part. The coolest part is that they have selected the perfect shape-- the six sided cell in order to optimize the use and preservation of precious resources.

I imagine all beekeepers eventually come across this information in some form - but this book that I've been reading called 'The Dancing Bees' by Karl von Frisch does a side by side comparison and depicts clearly how of many different possible shapes a bee could use to construct their brood and storage units, the hexagon is the optimal choice which makes maximum use of available space and coincidentally uses the least amount of wax possible in comb construction.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I have provided
a habitat fit for a queen.

I am in service to the queen
and I will be rewarded in due course.

But I think that means
I have been domesticated.