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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Clogged Feeders

Dawn & I went to the farm to dump some yard waste and check the feeders, and my concern was correct: the feeders were severely clogged with sugar.  The 2:1 solution didn't work in the colder weather.  I cleaned out the crystals from the jars and lids and diluted them down with hot water and stuck them back out on the hives.  The bees immediately proclaimed a collective "Thank You!"  I'll probably run up Monday evening to check on them if time allows.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bee Check

Today I was up at the farm again, but this time for Aaron's birthday party.  The bees haven't been working the water much, but also it has been cold the past two days.  Today was a warmer day and the bees were all over the feeders, and Dad even saw them buzzing around the farm house!  As we were getting ready to leave around 2:30pm I drove out to the hives and the water level had not changed at all....I didn't have time to investigate, so I need to get up there tomorrow.  I'm thinking the feeder clogged with the cold weather and the 2:1 solution. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Refill, AGAIN?!

Dad called throughout the day yesterday giving me updates on the water level in the feeders.  He said the bees were really working the feeders!  By the end of the day both feeders were empty!  So, this morning I headed up to fill again, but this time I used a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water and see how that goes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Refill the Feeders

I made an early morning road trip to the farm and fed the bees again at the ratio of 2.5 pounds per half gallon.  They had finished off the half gallon feeders by the end of the day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Inspecting My Hives

Today, Aaron and I went up to inspect the hives for winter and didn't like what we saw.  Of the 20 frames in the brood chambers we saw pollen stored around, but very, very little honey!  3-4 frames per hive, and they were not solid frames.  I slapped a feeder on both hives with 2.5 pounds of sugar per half gallon feeder.  It looks like I'm back to feeding them.  If I had checked sooner in the month I would have started feeding them then.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

All Bottled Up!

Well, I bottled up the last of the honey this season.  I had about 3 gallons of honey and filled 24 half-pound bottles and 24 pound bottles.  Jessica helped me fill the bottles this weekend; she thought the 8oz bottles were exceptionally cute!  Now I have to compile my order list to make sure I get my pre-orders filled before I sell to anyone else!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Great Bee Club Meeting

The Crossroads Beekeepers met tonight, and it was another great meeting.  We had twelve in attendance, with five new people, and three of them became new members.  Our program was on preparing your hives for winter.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Filtering Honey

Tonight I spent the evening in the kitchen filtering the last of this year's honey.  I was able to harvest 16 frames that is a mixture of wild flowers and goldenrod.  It definately has a different taste from the white clover earlier this year.  It is very sweet with what I would call a bright bite.  It has a character where generally store bought honey doesn't.  I have three honey filters that I used with my straining bucket, though this time I only used two filters, a 600 micron and a 200 micron.  Now I need to order some more honey jars and start packaging!  I had one lady call on Wednesday wanting to buy several pounds that she eats for treating her allergies.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Brought the Honey to Town

Today the family enoughed a junior high football tournament in Benton, Illinois, where our grandson, Elijah, played...they boys played some great ball and did exceptionally well for fifth graders!  We got home from the game late, and after getting Aaron and Jessica settled down Dawn and I took off for the farm to bring home the extractor, frames of honey, and storage container.  After yesterday's experience, I think it will be better to spin out the honey in town away from the bees at the farm.  By the time we got there it was around 9pm and the girls were all in their hives, so we grabbed the equipment, loaded it in the truck, and came back to town.  I'll finish the extracting this week after work.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sadness & Lessons Learned

This afternoon, Aaron and I went to check on the new hive and to harvest honey.  We were both saddened and surprised to see that the new hive was silent and filled with dead bees.  I'm not exactly sure what happened other than a combination of capturing them late in the season with cold nights coming on and they were low in numbers.  I had placed a feeder inside the hive, which they had used, and there was plenty of goldenrod behind the hive, but unfortunately they didn't make it.

Good news was that I had 16 frames of honey that I pulled from the supers on the other two hives.  Aaron and I spun out over 2 gallons from one hive and we have the frames from the West hive to spin out later.  When I pulled the frames from the East hive they bees were very calm and polite, but the West hive was another story.  The West bees were upset from the beginning and just seemed to get worse.  Aaron was a great help in his bee suit as we smoked and brushed the bees off of each frame.

We drove the frames in the back of the truck to the old wash house by the farm house where we were going to spin out the honey.  It has water and screened windows and should keep any stray bees from being a pest.  Well, things didn't go quite as planned.  While Aaron and I were setting up the equipment in the wash house, the bees came a lookin' for their stolen honey....and found it.  When I went out to bring in some frames there were easily a hundred bees buzzing around the back of the truck.  I carefully grabbed four frames and we went to work on them.  There is sure a difference between working with honey when it is 85 degrees outside and when it is only 65!

After finishing those four frames, I sent Aaron out to get some more, but he returned empty handed....why? Because there were hundreds and hundreds of bees swarming around the truck.  It was also at this point that Aaron informed me that I had left the truck windows down...(great!)  I decided to suit up to get the frames and would pass them to Aaron who was guarding the wash house door.  I think we only had about 3 bees sneak into the wash house.  We spun out six more frames and drained most of the honey into a storage container.  Let me tell you, cold honey pours S-L-O-W!!!  As we were extracting the honey we heard a strong buzzing sound and discovered that the bees had found us and were buzzing all around the screen window.    Because we were on a schedule we had to finish up before getting all the frames spun out, so we cleaned up and went to the farm house with a tray of cappings that I was going to pack up to take home.  As soon as we got into the farm house the bees were buzzing at the screen door!  They were everywhere!  Aaron commented how it was like Alfred Hitchcock's movie "The Birds" but with bees.

I decided to suit up again and take the empty frames out to the hives so the bees could clean them up, and frankly I was not going to keep the frames anywhere near the farm house.  I headed out to the hives and sat the frames down for the bees to do their work.  At that point I decided to check the brood frames on the West hive...yes the hive that was upset with me a couple of hours ago.  They were bearded all over the front of the hive still, but appeared calm to my approach.  I popped the top and pulled a random frame that was filled with capped honey.  However, with that action the bees launched their aerial attack!  I don't think I have ever been swarmed like that before.  No stings through my suit, but it was quite an experience.  Aaron had a bit of an experience as well.  He was not suited up, but was standing back about 20 feet, when some bees started buzzing him from the West hive, so he backed up another 10 feet.  However, the bees started going after his hair, so he took off running.  Not realizing his troubles, I asked him to bring me the smoker from the truck, but when I turned around I saw him already about 100 yards away at the machine was later I learned about his encounter with the bees. 

Because the West hive was stuffed with bees, having taken the super off, I decided to put the super back on so they would have plenty of space to live and not try to swarm this late in the season.  I will just leave the super on all winter, though with their numbers dropping as the honey flow ends, they will probably not use it much in a few more weeks.

Too much fun with a smoker!

The other day Aaron and I were working with the bees, and Aaron was taking photos.  Here was one of the photos capturing the dangerous fun you can have with your smoker after working with your bees!