• Tag Archives honey supers
  • Bee Diary: August, 2011

    Lughnasa                                                                   Waning Honey Extraction Moon

    Checked the honey supers this morning.  On the two package colonies that I do not intend to overwinter, we have approximately four full honey supers.  That is, we have for harvest the amount of honey they would have needed for the winter, close to 200 pounds.  Figure that 40 pounds is not recoverable due to drips, stuck on honey comb even after extraction then that should leave around 16o pounds to harvest.

    If we chose to sell it at, say $7 a pound, that would create around a $1,ooo in sales after keeping some back for own use and gifts.  After the bee packages at $60 each and amortizing the honey extractor, supers and hive boxes, syrup, hive tools, smoker, pollen, queen excluders, honey jars, top and bottom boards and telescoping covers, we’d still be in the red for the first three years.  Don’t know what we’ll do with it this year, probably give away a lot again.  It’s good for barter and gifts for sure.

    Artemis Hives has produced honey two years in a row now, an artisanal honey created by bees aided by the beekeeper, me, and the bee equipment and harvest partner, Kate.

    Looking at the gardening year in total we will have a good, not great honey harvest, a good potato harvest, leeks, beets, chard, beans and possibly a decent tomato crop.  Kate has good success with her zucchinis and the decorative gourds have bloomed but produced no fruit yet.  The gardening and beekeeping year will wind down in September, just in time for us to finish our cruise preparations.  Caring for gardens and bees requires a lot of face time with the plants and hives, visits to nurseries, attendance at Hobby Bee Keeper meetings, not to mention all the work of harvesting and putting food by.

    I’m at the point in the year when my enthusiasm has run out a while ago and the only thing that keeps me active now is the need to finish, to harvest.  When it’s done, it’s over for the year.


  • Bee Diary: July 18 2011

    Mid-Summer                                                                   Waning Honey Flow Moon

    The six new honey supers did not prove necessary since I’m still two supers ahead of each colony, but it does look like colonies 2 & 3 have already stored a lot of honey, especially in the two supers that went on in place of  the third hive box.  In colony 1, the colony I will overwinter, they seem to still be at work filling up that third hive box which will constitute their honey supply for the winter.  In 2 & 3 we will harvest the honey from the two super equivalents to that third full hive box.

    Looked at the garlic, which I’ve been harvesting as its leaves brown.  When two leaves are brown, I pull them and I have about half the crop out now. It looks like the best garlic crop I’ve ever had.  Nice fat heads.  I’ll save a couple to plant next year, continuing this garlic’s acclimatization to our soil and weather.

    We’re harvesting more frequently overall this year, getting beans, peas and lettuce before they over grow.  This part of the July is the hump part of the growing season.  From this point forward it’s either harvesting or making sure plants stay healthy until they are ready to harvest.  The bees are in mid-honey flow, storing and working like, well, like bees.

    Artemis gardens and hives is having a good year.

  • To Bee, To Do

    Mid-Summer                                                             Waning Honey Flow Moon

    Out to the bees in just a few minutes to slap on two more honey supers each, the six I finished varnishing yesterday while Mark put foundations in the frames.  This will find six honey supers on colonies 2 & 3, while colony 1, the parent colony for next year’s only divide, will have four.  Not sure if I’ll need more than these.  I’m having to do this in the early morning, not the best time, but the only time I’ve got today.

    At 9:15 Kate and I take off in separate cars for the Northern Clay Center.  Our clay intensive starts this week, 10:00 to 4:30.  I hope to learn how to make Japanese style tea cups and salad sized plates.  Like tai chi working clay puts a premium on hand-eye co-ordination and sense of touch as well overall design skills.

    A good while ago my spiritual journey had gone stale in the reading, meditation, contemplative modes I knew best. The next stage of my spiritual practice became gardening, working with the rhythm of flowers, soil, spades and trowels.

    That practice went on for many years when Kate and I decided to add vegetables and the orchard with permaculture principles in mind.  That added a good deal of oomph to the tactile spirituality, deciding to keep bees put animal husbandry into the mix.  At this point my spirituality has become more and more attuned to the rhythms of growing seasons, plants and bees, all within the context of the Celtic Great Wheel.

    With tai chi and clay my spiritual practice comes closer in again, my hands, my feet, my hips, my arms.  Both clay and tai chi are paths on this nature focused ancientrail, though for me they are quite a bit harder.  But that’s the push I need to grow.

    After our first day at Northern Clay, I have my Woolly meeting tonight at Highpoint Print co-operative where we will make prints.  One more step down the ancientrail of the mind/body link.

  • Sunday, Sunday

    Mid-Summer                                                                            Full Honey Flow Moon

    More fun with the alarm system.  Back and forth with ADT.  On the phone, pushing buttons.  Still the chirping.  Service call.

    Business meeting.  Scheduling a Denver trip for sometime in September.  Looking at buying some more mulch for the vegetable garden.

    Practice tai-chi.  Sand and varnish for coat number three six honey supers.  They need to go on tomorrow morning.  Mark put foundations in the frames today, so we’re ready to go.

    Out to tai-chi.  I’m still the slow student in class, but I’m learning.  Slowly.  A challenge for this guy to connect body and mind, but a challenge worth keeping after.

  • Does It Play To or With Our Cult of Celebrity?

    Mid-Summer                                                                    Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    So.  Attended a political meeting in the morning, came  home, took a long nap, got up and put Helmsman varnish on the honey supers, six, then went up and watched some TV after a conversation with Mark and Kate.

    Today had one weird announcement.  This statue of Marilyn Monroe in Chicago.  Only time will tell if it is really in as bad a taste as it seems to be.  Not sure quite what to think of it.  Guess I’d have to see it in person.  No, I would have to see it in person.

    What’s good.  It’s a famous image, made bigger than lifesize in a believable way.  It’s either saucy or sexist, or both.  It puts the whole 1950’s/1960’s era right there, in the midst of 21st century Chicago.  It’s pop art, I suppose.  It is a joyous image, a woman apparently secure in her sexuality and having fun.  It is a heroine sized sculpture, a monumental tip of the hat to Marilyn, a complex figure for 1960’s era boys and girls.

    What’s bad.  It invites the pictures I’ve already seen posted of men standing between her legs and looking up.  Of course, that’s on the men, yes, but still.  It draws us into a stereotypical display of woman as object, as object of desire, of silly non-chalance as an antidote for prurience. (which, come to think of it, maybe it is.)   It plays to our cult of the celebrity. (or, does it play with our cult of celebrity?)

    If you’ve seen it, I’m interested in what you thought.

  • Love Is Not Only For the Animal World

    Mid-Summer                                                           Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    Kate’s put up ten jars of red currant jam and put together six honey supers.  She’s a great ally in estate management with her skills.  She keeps saying, “I’m surprised how much major surgery slows me down.”  Oh?

    When I ate dinner at the Java yesterday, the waitress said, “That was quite a storm last night.”  “Yes,” I said, not remembering much.  “It blew a big tree down, right at my house.  It stopped less than a foot from my roof.”  “Wow.”  “Did you hire someone to cut it down?”  “Yes. I’m going to miss that tree.  It turned red in the fall.  I knew I should take it down.”

    Love is not only for the animal world.

    The MCAD class has moved into Graphic Design history with an emphasis on posters, especially in the 19th and early 20th century.  Some very striking pieces.

  • Bee Diary: July, 2011

    Mid-Summer                                                      Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    All three colonies now have honey supers.  I put two on the parent colony for 2012 today after a full reversal of the three hive boxes.  The other two colonies now have four honey 640flying-bees-july-2011supers on over two hive boxes, the management practice for them will let them die off naturally at the end of the season.  I’m looking forward to a better honey harvest than last year, but we’ll see. It’s still early days.

    Next year I’m going to move all new packages into hive boxes set out at the perimeter of the current location which will put them all in the sun while maintaining their protection from the wind.

    So far this whole season I have had one sting, the result of working all three colonies a week ago with no gloves and only the veil.  These are friendly, or at least incurious, bees.

    Shifting my workout back to the morning, where I had it for many years, has gotten the desired result, more consistency.  The downside is that I wander around in the afternoon and early evening ( like now) not knowing exactly what to do.  I’ll have to mend this somehow, and I will over time as I adjust to this new routine.

    Kate and I went out today while I did the banking and picked up meds.  She stayed in the truck until we got to Applebees, her new favorite restaurant.  Not mine, but it’s not bad.  A little down market for my taste.  Having Kate out a week after her surgery is both amazing and pleasing.  She’s my sweetie and I like spending time with her.

    Brother Mark has begun to get some job nibbles.  He got a haircut and beard trim today that cost him $28.  That seemed high to his Bangkok tuned financial sensitivities.

  • Still Alive.

    Beltane                                                              Waxing Garlic Moon

    Oh, boy.  I’ve not gone a day without a post in a long time.  Yesterday went by so fast.

    Worked on Latin for a bit, but a brightening day pulled me outside.  I plucked tulip detritus out of a bed where some tomato plants needed to go.  These were full grown ones, liable to produce tomatoes as opposed to my healthy, but still immature seedling started back in April.

    At the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers meeting Tuesday I learned that honey filling what could be brood frames means the bees in colonies 2 and 3 felt crowded.  I got out my honey supers, scraped them free of propolis, something I realized I could have done last fall, and excess wax, then plopped two each on 2 & 3.   These are the colonies that will be allowed to die out over the winter.  Colony 1 already has its 3rd hive box on with the queen producing brood at a quick pace.  All three of these colonies started out on drawn comb which reduces the initial work load significantly and allows the bees to focus on brood raising, foraging and honey and pollen collecting.

    All of this means Artemis hives have positioned themselves for the start of the honey flow.

    Then it was quick get into my nicer clothes for a 3 hour stint at the Netroots Convention in downtown Minneapolis.  I volunteered for service at the Sierra Club table in the convention’s exhibit hall.  We highlighted our Beyond Coal campaign.  I got into a snit with an organizer who felt that chairs should be anathema at tables.  He feels this creates a climate that forces staff and volunteers out into the stream of traffic, pressing cards and information into people’s hands, getting names and addresses.  At 64 standing on a concrete floor for 3 and 4 hours in a row is not something I choose to do.  A chair gives me an opportunity to take a break now and then.   Which I need.

    The organizer’s view saw volunteers as numbers useful for gaining more numbers, rather than people.  This is an instrumentalist view of the person, an error in judgment not unusual among utopians who willingly sacrifice today’s people in service of a better future.  It ignores the true and only reason for organizing which is to gain a better life for others, a better life which begins in the present, not in some imagined or hoped for more powerful future.

    Do we need to sacrifice to move our political ideas forward?  Of course.  Do we need to sacrifice our health and well-being?  Only in extreme situations.  Which the Netroots Convention in the Minneapolis Convention center is not.

    After three hours of hawking underwear (I’ll explain later) and moving beyond coal as a source of electrical generation, I drove over to the Walker where I began a two session seminar at the Walker Art Center on THE BLURRING OF ART AND LIFE: IMPACT OF MASS CULTURE ON ART. Taught by an art historian from Hamline College, Roslye Ultan, this seminar approaches modern and contemporary art especially since Dada and Marcel DuChamp.  There are ten or eleven of us in the class, all women save for me and all Walker guides save for me.

    This means I find in myself cast in the unusual role of traditionalist.  The MIA is an encyclopedic museum with an emphasis on the historicality and the geographicality of art from the earliest to the most recent, extending from a 20,000 year old Venus Figurine to a finished last year installation, Dreaming of St. Adorno by living artist, Siah Armajani.

    Roslye takes her art historical cue from DuChamp who said he wanted to put art in the service of the mind.  Rosalye has expanded on or extended this idea into an assertion that it is not the object that is the universal, transcendent work but the idea given form in the object.  Seemingly entrenching my traditionalist orientation, I disagreed, holding out for the work of art itself as the what that transcended time.

    She tried to tell me this was not right, but I am not easily budged by an argument from authority, so we had a tussle.  A mild one.  I backed off, as I often do in classroom settings, not wanting to waste other peoples time.  In this instance, as the class progressed, I found the tussle invigorated the class, gave it an edge and increased my focus.

    That was two instances of conflict in one day.  On the drive home I turned them both over in my mind, like teasing a hole in a tooth.  Was I too much in the argument with the organizer?  Yes, my tone was over the top.  Did I regret?  Tone, yes. Content, no.  I’ll apologize for the tone to him today.  But not the need to treat volunteers as people not instruments.

    The tussle in the class left me with no negative hangover.  In fact, when I put the two together, I realized they meant I’m alive and still living.  I felt good about that.

  • Bee Diary: Memorial Day Weekend

    Beltane                                                                     Waning Last Frost Moon

    The bees.  Today the second hive boxes went on each colony.  This means that 70-80% of the frames in the bottom boxes have brood and pollen, requiring more space now for expansion of the growing number of bees.

    Without a second hive box the chance of swarming, increased by overcrowding, would become probable.  In the ideal bee keeper world, adding the second hive box, with moving a 500honey-extraction_0231frame from the box below to the new one to entice the bees up, eliminates swarming.  No bee keeper wants a swarm because about half the bees and the young queen leave and the remaining, now queenless workers and nurse bees have to create an emergency queen.  Since half of the workers are gone and emergency queens are not as productive as the new, young queen the beekeeper gets little if any surplus honey.

    (this is where we’re headed.  this colony has three deeps and three honey supers.  last august)

    On two of the colonies I added regular hive boxes, or deeps, that is a box able to hold the 9 5/8″ frames.  This is the standard UofM beekeeping in northern climates method and it aims toward overwintering of the colonies and using them to both create a new, child colony next spring and a maximum honey producing colony, the parent.  On the third colony, however, I added two honey supers instead of a deep.  This is the same amount of space as a deep, but the honey supers are lighter since they’re only half the size of a deep.

    This last colony I plan to manage solely for this year, attempting to get maximum honey production from it.  I’ll accomplish that by extracting all the honey this colony makes.  I estimate I would have had another 150 pounds of honey last year had I practiced this method.  The downside of this method is that the colony will die in the fall because it will have no honey stores to live on through the winter.  It also doesn’t create a parent colony for the UofM method.

    This may sound cruel, but if it’s effective, it will only reflect the reality I experienced last winter.  All three of my colonies died.  I had to start with new bees this year.  The honey those colonies made to overwinter filled a deep and a half, the equivalent of 36 full honey supers.  Since we only extracted from 2 full and several partial supers last fall, that would have meant a good deal more honey.

    An experiment.  We’ll see how it goes.

    It continues to amaze me that these bees are calm, giving me no problem when I do colony inspections.  With smoke they go about their business while I go about mine, the work gets finished and I move on.  Don’t know what the difference is, whether I’m calmer or these are more docile bees.  Maybe a bit of both.

  • Bee Diary: Honey Extraction

    06-27-10_package-colonyLughnasa                                   Waning Artemis Moon

    The honey extraction has begun.  Kate and I assembled the extractor this morning.  I am not at my best during the accomplishing of mechanical tasks and got a bit testy.  Kate gave me some space; reengaged.  Then I considered aligning myself with the flow of our day–instead of bucking it because I felt incompetent, got my head and heart back in connection and we solved a problem together.  The directions for attaching the power unit were, to be kind, vague.  Bordered on the non-existent, really.  Together, however, we figured out to raise the drive shaft far enough to makes its union with the industrial strength Baldor motor work tight.  It’s a work-around for now, but I’ll connect with the folks at Dadant and we’ll get it done right after we’re finished with the honey harvest tomorrow.

    I removed four frames from the package colony, a gift really, since its primary job this year was to grow into a parent colony that I can divide next spring.  The bees do not like it when you take their honey.  I have one sting to show for that.

    There were several lessons from the honey super removal.  First, I put the empty super that held the frames after I removed them from the hive in the wagon attached to the lawn tractor.  Worked well logistically for me, but I ended up with an inch deep and foot square pile of mad bees on the bed of the wagon.  I had to use the bee-brush to brush them all onto the ground.  That made them even less happy.  I realized that doing several colonies and working each colony in turn would result in one bee yard full of mad bees.

    So, tomorrow I will put the empty honey super on my standby, the wheel barrow with a wire dog crate door on it.  Don’t laugh.  It works.  That way the left over bees will be either in the wheel-barrow or on the ground, not in the wagon bed.

    Second, the package colonies frames were not 80% capped, so I had to heat the honey to 145 to kill yeast and avoid fermentation.  Heating the honey turned tricky when it climbed above 145 to 160. I’m sure the yeast are dead now, but I don’t know yet what we’ve done to the taste of the honey.

    Our extractor holds six honey super frames and we only put in four so that made balance a little tricky at first.  The extractor is very much like a washing machine, though the extracting baskets rotate rather than agitate.  It acted like a washing machine with a load of rugs, really gyrating at much above 60% speed.  So, we ran it at about 58%.  Took about 20-30 minutes.

    We got a lot of honey.  From four frames.  I’m thinking we may have more than I imagined. We’ll see tomorrow.