🐝 Bee Friday

Happy Bee Friday!

Watching the bees fly into the hive today on their pollen gathering journey, I realized that the statistic that can fly up to 15 mph is very accurate. These ladies were moving so fast that I could not capture their speed. The recent brisk spring temperatures have made move faster but today was another good sign the hive is doing well after 2 weeks and will be ready to move to a community garden site.

Bee back with you soon!

Michelle

Spring at the garden

It’s mid April and spring has finally arrived. I came out this morning to check in at the garden in Park Heights to find that one of my fellow beekeepers new hives are doing well.

The recent change in weather and blooms are out!

More updates to come!

Michelle

New Bees 🐝

Below are some quick photos of the new bee package install. I was bey lucky to get Warren to help me. This package was more robust than I thought so I may be able to do a split soon. I will put up a more detailed post shortly but this is a teaser for my spring installations.

Project Sunflower

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Summer Bee

I am currently a taking the UME Baltimore City Master Gardener course and last week we talked about pollinators which is one of my favorite topics. It sparked me to look at my garden and what I plant. Last year, I planted sunflowers and they were great in my garden. I found that sunflowers attracted a myriad of bees and other pollinators.

This year as part of my work with BeeMore, I am going up my game a bit by planting additional sunflowers at different sites. I found some great resources on this and the ongoing Great Sunflower Project.

I will share more on my efforts to support Project Sunflower.

Michelle

 

Brief Spring in Baltimore

Above is a quick video of the bees in🐝 Park Heights on a warm winter day this week! This is the one surviving hives from one of the other beekeepers at the site.

The temperature was over 70 degrees that day and there is some clover on the field. It’s was a great day for getting out of the hive.

Michelle

Extracting Honey – Part 1

Today, I started the honey extraction process. There are a few tools and items you want to have on hand when you are doing this process:

  • 8×10 Tarp (Camping Grade)
  • 5 Gallon Bucket (food grade w/ cover)
  • A Capping Knife or Tool
  • A few pairs of Disposable Gloves
  • A Honey Strainer or Mesh Bag
  • A Spatula
  • Newspaper, Plastic containers and other things to mitigate the mess.

Here is a link to a video that explains the steps I took to do this first extraction. I only did a few frames so, I will post additional updates on the process to share the efficiencies that I have found.

Just in case you missed it! Check out the Extraction Video

Michelle

 

The warm up…or really more of the same.

This morning, I ventured out to check on the hives and greenhouses after the deep freeze of the past two weeks.  A found a few bees working in the hive which was a good sign. The white stuff is the sugar or bee candy that I made a few weeks ago.

Most of the vegetation in the area is still frozen from the frost but, its good to see that my bees persist.  Even though 40+ degree weather feels balm to us because of the persistent cold, to the bees it’s just another winter day.

Stay Warm!

Michelle

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Winter Work

Part of the winter beekeeping work is rehabbing equipment for the next season. I wanted to share the details for those who may inherit or have to reuse their previous year’s equipment.

The purchasing of pre-owned equipment is often tricky because beekeepers are wary of stuff that they do not have knowledge of because it may have been infected by American Foulbrood or other diseases that may have caused the colony to collapse.

My thought in documenting this process was to better inform potential beekeepers of some of the steps of maintenance in the offseason. Thus, the preparing boxes for reuse is a key task because if you have bees that die of other causes you can still reuse the equipment if you take right precautions and these steps also help you to preserve your equipment investment.

These are boxes that I purchased earlier this fall from a fellow beekeeper that had some damage due to wax moth damage. In order to reuse these boxes, I had to scrape and clean them outside. Lucky, I did this work before the super cold snap (in Nov/Dec 2017), and I used some straightforward tools that I got from the $1 store (note: small and large paint scrapers). I also used the hose at high pressure to blast of the last cocoons. Once the boxes were dry, I brought them indoors and with the help of Katie S, we started the next phase.

It is recommended to burn the leftover wax and inside corners of the boxes, thus removing all of the yucky remnants. For safety, we had a fire extinguisher on hand and since I am walking accident, I left the blowtorch work to Katie. She also used a small tool to clean out the top crevices of the boxes as well.

Finally, painting the outside of the boxes with two coats of outdoor high gloss paint gave the boxes a new life. The boxes will be airing out for the winter so that there is plenty of time for any fumes to dissipate. The painted boxes will weather longer and hold up to the elements much better than untreated wood.

Note: That it is less expensive to buy unpainted equipment and do it yourself if you are purchasing a large number of boxes. There are often deals on bulk boxes and new bee equipment but, if you are buying a single hive, the price difference is slight. I suggest that you go ahead and pay the extra $5-7 for painted boxes, it is worth the money and time.

In future posts, I will share the artistic transformation of these boxes. I will also share the assembly process of the many new boxes that I purchased this summer.

Michelle

Feeding at Dusk

This is an update on the feeding process and my latest visit at dusk on December 13, 2017. After working on a few projects this week, I finally got a chance to check on the bees, on Wednesday evening at dusk. The forecast for that evening was for light snows and sleet and the weather was in low 30’s to high – 20’s.  The wind was biting cold and my fingers despite having on gloves froze quickly so I tried to be as efficient as possible while still trying to document the visit with my SLR.

Due to the temperatures, bees tend to cluster.  Definition of Clustering: The worker bees huddle around the queen bee at the center of the cluster, shivering to keep the center between 27 °C (81 °F) at the start of winter and 34 °C (93 °F) once the queen resumes laying. The worker bees rotate through the cluster from the outside to the inside so that no bee gets too cold.

Below are some key details from my visit:

  1. Bee Candy Results: The results of my no-cook bee candy (candy bar). It crumbled because I may have added too many drops of essential oil.  It smelled great but it was sort of fail. I am going to have to reassemble new bars.
  2. Removing Frames: I took out empty frames and added honey from other hives that failed. I froze these other frames for at least 48 hours at home as per the advice of other beekeepers to remove issues of wax moths.
  3. Second Hive Issues: In the second hive (this is a stronger hive) the frames were glued together (propolitized – propolis) due to greater activity by the colony in the second box. Due to the cold temperature and impending nightfall, I did not spend a lot of time so I left the sugar on top and closed the hive quickly.

Lessons Learned: 

  1. Bee Candy Redo: I will try a cooked version or use less essential oil in my no-cook recipe.
  2. Next year I will be better at: Working my frames more. Get into these hives more often to reduce the issue with propolis
  3. Time well spent: That the care and feeding of these bees has been worth it and I have learned a lot!

I will do another check soon. Over the last few weeks, I have been collecting equipment and beginning my winter rehab and preparations. This next few posts will be on these endeavors.

Michelle 🙂

 

 

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