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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Honey Updates

Friday I received two boxes from Dadant which included a honey bucket and microfilters, honey storage jug, retail bottles and caps, and parts for making some hive boxes.  It was like a beekeeper's Christmas!  I gently warmed the honey that I extracted the other day to help it flow through the microfilters, and tomorrow I hope to start filling little bottles with the golden goodness!

Dawn & I also took a truckload of summer items to the farm for storage, so I checked on the bees to see how the honey super was coming along.  They have three frames capped, but the others are a long way from capping.  The major honey flow has passed, so I image these frames will take a bit longer than I hoped for.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tips for Fast Hive Growth

Another video by TheOhioCountryBoy on his tips for quickly growing a strong hive after installing package bees.

Video on Splitting Hives

This is a brief video on splitting hives in the Spring.  OhioCountryBoy splits four hives into a total of 10 hives for honey production the same year.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Radio Interview Today

his morning I was interviewed by William Bence on the morning show on WCRA in Effingham regarding beekeeping and the Crossroads Beekeepers.  It was a fun time with William and we talked about bees for over 20 minutes.  You can hear the interview by clicking on the link below.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Draining Honey & Building Hives

This afternoon I drained the honey from the extractor, mainly because it was making a puddle in the garage.  I haven't measured how much honey we got, but my guess is over 2 gallons.

Later in the afternoon I went to the farm to continue working on building more hives.  So far I have 5 bottom boards and 5 brood boxes ready for painting.  Once I figure out what I'm doing in the workshop, it kind of turns into an assembly line.  By the way, Menards is running a sale on lumber this week!  WooHoo!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Girl Scouts Learn About Bees

23 Girl Scouts from Troop 2032 in Effingham learned about honey bees and were able to see them up close and personal today as a part of their Friday/Saturday campout at "Camp Quicksall".  My wife's Girl Scout troop was out at the farm for a fun campout in the country and part of their experience was coming out to the bee yard, trying on a bee suit, and learning about the bees.  While the human girls had a fun time, the bee girls were getting a little testy after being messed with for about 2 hours! 

One facinating thing took place with the West hive.  While I had the top off a moth landed on the brood frames and the bees attacked!!!  I was amazed how they covered and repeatedly stung the moth.  I don't know if they lose their stingers with the soft body of a moth, but one particular bee appeared to be repeatedly thrusting its stinger into the moth.  While the attack was taking place I kept the Girl Scouts back because the bees were definately in a fight mood based upon how they were going after me as well.  After a short while I removed the moth and the bees calmed down within about 2 minutes.  That was amazing to watch!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Honey Extraction Party

Tonight we had a great time at the first ever Honey Extraction Party!  At 6:30 pm we had people start rolling in to see the show.  I had set up a couple of tables with bee equipment on display, and of course the honey extractor and box of 8 frames needing extracting.  The extractor worked great and everyone had a turn at turning the crank and trying a taste of the honey.  Those in attendance were Larry, Dawn, Aaron & Jessica Quicksall; Edward & Eileen Quicksall; Dick & Kim Loy & their two children; Brad & Dana Garbe; Jennifer Rodman & Elijah, Nicolas, Joshua, Zachary, & Benjamin; and Jim Kline.  I will let the honey sit in the extractor for a few days to let it drip down the sides and collect in the bottom before draining.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Swarm or No Swarm

I received a call at the end of work from Dick regarding his bees.  It seemed they were balling underneath his hive, and he was concerned they were getting ready to swarm.  I came out to look at them with him, and it was rather amazing...they were hanging onto the screen on the bottom of the bottom board.  They were hanging onto each other and were at least 2-3 inches thick all the way across the bottom of the hive.  I would guess, basing it upon what my 3 pound package of bees looked like when I installed them, that there were 20,000 under there!  We decided to check the hive for the Queen and for swarm cells to determine if they were preparing to swarm or just too crowded or hot in the hive.  In going through the hive we found the Queen and did not find any swarm cells. 

We also checked the hive of bees we captured a week ago.  As we looked in the hive we didn't find any Queen and we didn't find any brood.  Dick said he saw these bees carrying off the brood over the past week and we could figure out why.  They also weren't building comb on the frames but appeared to be destroying it.  * I later found out from Dave at Long Lane that it is a challenge to keep brood alive when taking them from another hive, especially the capped brood.  He said you have to keep the brood at 92 degrees or they will quickly die.  He usually brings along another hive to install them in with bees who will keep them warm.  So, it looks like the bees were carrying off their dead.  Dick and I discussed the need to get a new Queen to install and save the colony.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bought an Extractor

Saturday was a fun day for beekeeping.  I was up at the farm with Aaron and two of his friends for a campout (of course having a heat factor over 100 degrees makes camping a challenge).  While at the farm I checked on the bees and found the new queen in the West hive is still laying eggs and some of her capped brood looks ready to hatch out.  The East hive is making honey, though the honey flow has greatly slowed.  Hopefully, I will have 10 more frames to harvest by the end of the month.

I then made a trip to rural Shelbyville and had a lovely visit with Len and Cathy Chandler.  Len and Cathy recently retired to Shelby County having moved from St. Charles, Illinois.  Len has been beekeeping for 40+ years and has a wealth of knowledge.  At this time he has about 20 hives, is fixing up a honey house, and likes doing things the old way.  Recently he purchased a nice, big new honey extractor and had a couple of antique extractors to sell.  When I finally left their homestead I had picked up several times to try with my bees, a couple of homemade nuc boxes, and a 4 frame honey extractor.

Later that afternoon, back at the farm, I started working on hive components and have 5 bottom boards ready for assembly.  Unfortunately, I didn't bring along wood glue, so assembly will have to take place on another day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

1st Meeting of Crossroads Beekeepers

Tonight we had the first meeting of the Crossroads Beekeepers at Joe Sippers in Effingham.  There were eight of us in attendance, and I can safely say all of us had a great time.  Many fun stories and tidbits of information was shared among the new members.  Those in attendance were myself, Dick and Kim Loy from Effingham, Michele Robertson of Effingham, Danny Rodman of Effingham, Bob and Janet Clark of Edgewood, and Jane Ries of Effingham.

The next meeting will be on Monday, September 13th, from 6:30-8:00pm in the back room at Joe Sippers.  All are invited!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wild Hive Removal

Dick Loy and I removed a wild bee hive from under a potting shed today at the home of Theron and Peggy Kuhn.  This was a first time doing it and boy was it an adventure!  It was a huge hive (at least by what we initially believed) resulting in us filling 8 of Dick's frames with brood comb.  We divided the honey comb between the Kuhns, Dick and myself.  I processed over a quart of honey from my share.  Below is a video of our adventure.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Honey Harvest!!!

Today I went to the farm and checked the honey super on the East Hive, and they had all but one frame capped off; the other one was mostly capped off but could use a day or two more.  Also, the frame I harvested on Sunday had honeycomb drawn out again and the bees were busy filling it with honey. 

I checked the West hive and the remaining bees still haven't done anything with the honey super, so I did a big rotation.  I took the honey super off of the West hive and removed all but two of the empty frames.  I then pulled the eight capped frames from the  East hive honey super and put them in the empty honey super from the West hive.  I then replaced the East hive with the empty frames from the West hive.  I'm hoping that the East hive will fill out those frames in the remaining days of August.  When September comes I plan on removing both supers and letting the bees have the remaining nectar of the fall for their winter stores.

I rolled into town and stopped by Mom and Dad's house and showed them the honey super.  Mom was really surprised with the amount of honey; it brought back memories from when she was a child and her dad kept bees.  I weighed one of the frames and my guess is that each frame has about 4 pounds of honey on it.  On these eight frames I believe I have approximately 2.5 gallons of honey!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Building a Bee Vacuum

While on vacation last week I received a phone call from a family who have a feral bee colony on their backyard shed and would like to have the bees removed.  I knew this day would someday come and went about figuring out the best way to capture the bees.  I found plans for a bee vacuum and began working on the project with Dad this week.  Hopefully, we will have the vacuum completed today or tomorrow and will be able to get the bees captured this weekend. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Article: One Honey of a Summer

Here is an article regarding the outstanding honey harvest in Maine this year!  Just click on this link >>> One Honey of a Summer!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

First Honey Harvest

We just returned from a week vacation to the East Coast, and after a bit of resting from the long drive today I received permission from my sweetie to check on my bees. 

West Hive Update: The surviving workers and their new queen have been busy working in the hive.  During the bees' time without a queen they were filling the brood chamber with lots of honey and pollen; and since they had no queen they didn't bother leaving any honeycomb cells open for the raising of brood.  Now that they have a queen they have been moving or eating honey to make space for the new brood.  I pulled a couple of frames for a quick inspection and found larva, so I know the queen is working.  As before, no honeycomb is being pulled out in the honey super.  I will give them a pass since they workers are low in number and they are busy with the new queen, but I believe there is something about that super they don't like.

East Hive Update:  I checked on the honey super and the cells on all the frames are 80-90% capped honey!  I found one frame that was nearly complete and decided to harvest the honey.  I took one frame to the farm house and got to work.  My plan was to decap one side of the frame and let the honey drip out of the honeycomb cells.  I used my decapping knife, but found it did not easily decap and tore apart much of the honeycomb.  I then tried using another decapping tool that looks more like an old fashion hair pick.  That tool worked much better for removing just the caps.  I flipped the frame over to let the honey drip out and guess what?  Nothing dripped out!  I wound up just scraping out all of the honeycomb and pressing it through a wire screen to separate the wax from the honey.  I also heated up some of the comb in the microwave to get the honey out of the comb more easily. 

The first frame of honey!

Bees cap off the honey with wax when it is ripe, which is 17% moisture content.

Since the honey was too thick to drip out, I had to scape out all of the honey comb from the frame.

Using Grandma's sive to separate the wax from the honey.


My first frame yielded 5 half-pints of honey.

I was quite an operation, taking much longer than I anticipated.  I was most surprised at the wax...this stuff is quite sticky and it gets over everything you use!  However, I did have some sweet rewards.  I filled 5 half-pint jars with beautiful honey!  It is a translucent yellow and the family describes the taste as different from what they buy in the stores.  In describing the struggles I had with getting the honey out of the frame, my wife gave me permission to get a honey extractor to do it right.  While on vacation we also talked about expansion of the bee operation, and I plan on buying assembled frames from Dadant and building five more hives.

Another interesting thing happened while on vacation.  I received two phone calls regarding bee colonies in an old house and in a backyard shed.  I am planning on making a bee vacuum this week and seeing if we can remove the colony and transfer them into a new hive.  I already have Dick talked into the idea (it didn't take much arm twisting).