• Tag Archives package
  • Harvest

    Fall                                      New (Harvest) Moon

    Second round of apiguard in the parent and the divide.  The top box on the package colony has gotten heavier, but I plan to feed them some more as I will do to the parent once the apiguard comes off in two weeks.  Sometime in early November I’ll get out the cardboard wraps and cover the hives for winter.  That will pretty much finish bee work for the year until late February or early March.  I’ve given away honey and plan to give away more.  Part of the fun.

    A quick walk through the vegetable garden shows kale and swiss chard looking good, a few rogue onions that escaped the harvest, plenty of carrots, beets and butternut squash.  The harvest is 2010-10-04_0351not yet over and will go on until the ground threatens to become hard.

    While I drove through the countryside on my way back to Lafayette on Monday, I passed field after field of corn and beans, some harvested, some not, about half and half.  Seeing those scenes put me right back at home, especially the corn fields.  Here’s a field near Peru, Indiana with the combine spilling corn into a tractor trailer for transport either to a corn bin, grain dryer or even straight to the grain elevators, all depending on the price and moisture content of the corn.

    Indiana is no longer home, Minnesota is, but Indiana has a large section of my heart, the chamber of childhood and early young adulthood, a room full of corn fields, basketball, small towns, a baby sister and brother, county fairs and James Whitcomb Riley poems.  I was glad to be there the last few days and to walk again in the part of my heart filled there so long ago.

    We move now toward Samhain, Summer’s End.  Blessed be.

  • Bee Diary: August 6, 2010

    Lughnasa                                     Waning Grandchildren Moon

    Hive inspections today.  The package colony, the youngest of the three, began life here in late April.  Now it has three hive boxes full of brood and honey, a honey super full and has two near empties for the rest of what the summer offers.  I’m pleased I’ve gotten honey from this colony so soon.  The parent colony still has two full honey supers, a third nearing full and two near empties.  The divide has expanded itself to the necessary three hive boxes for overwintering, but early on filled the third hive box with honey.  Since then it has shown little interest in the two empty supers I put on a month or so ago.

    The upshot of all this, at this point, is that we will have honey.  How much depends on the nectar flow over the next couple of weeks, but enough to justify purchasing extracting equipment.  It also means that I have two strong parent colonies going into next spring, the divide and the package, assuming, that is, that they survive the winter.  My mentor indicated that some people “knock the old queen on the head” in a parent colony, then requeen it.  If I decide to do this, it would see me next spring–again, assuming winter survival–with three parent colonies.  That would mean that in May I would have six colonies instead of four.

    Right now four seems about right for what I’m trying to do.  I don’t have commercial intentions, though I may sell some honey.  I want honey for us, for friends and family, for gifts and I want to continue learning about bees.  I’ll decide over the next few weeks.

    After extracting the honey, I also have to check my bees for mites and nosema.  A bridge not yet crossed.

    Also spent time in the vegetable garden where I found my onion crop ready for harvest.  I pulled them out, whites reds and yellows, put them on another raised bed, now empty of its parsnips, so they can cure in the sun for three days.  Then, some weeks on a screen drying further and finally downstairs in the storage room cum shop.  Picked green beans from the plants I put in between the potatoes and also gathered in some swiss chard.  Greens tonight.  New potatoes aren’t ready yet.  I look forward to them.  Potatoes fresh from the garden are like a different vegetable.

    Under my new schedule I’m supposed to work out now, but I’m going to do it after the nap.  At 4:00 pm I claim an hour of my birthday present from Kate, a massage at the oddly named, Massage Envy.

  • Bee Diary: July 2, 2010

    Summer                                   Waning Strawberry Moon

    Just sent an e-mail to the Minnesota Hobby Beekeeper’s Association.  I need help.  We’re in mid-season now and I don’t understand what I’m seeing in the hives, nor do I understand enough about where things should be right now.  The two  make a whole.  That is, I don’t understand what I’m seeing because I don’t know where things should be right now.

    I did a reverse on the parent colony, the last one, according to the book.  I do have more weight in the second honey super, but little action in three and four. This colony continues to be defensive, much more so than the package and about on par with the divide.

    The divide has filled the third hive box with honey, no brood at all.  I don’t know what that means, though I suspect it might mean I’ve had a swarm and am now queenless.  I did see brood, but workers will lay if a queen is gone.  Trouble is, since they’re not fertile, the only thing they can produce are drones.  There did seem to be a number of drone cells–they have a higher cap to accommodate the drone’s larger body.

    The package colony looks pristine, the larvae laying pattern seems ok and there is a general air of healthiness.  Not that there isn’t in the other two, but this one is like a puppy, all fresh and perky.  It has not, however, done much work at all on the third hive box, a bit of drawing out comb, but that’s about it.  Again, I don’t know what that means.

    I did get stung a couple of times, but I smoked the stings, scraped them off–rather than pull them out which injects more venom–and applied sting-ease.  The parent and the colony both have a more defensive posture than the package.  It could be, too, that I’m still somewhat clumsy with my frame inspections and crush the occasional bee.  There are many more bees in both of these colonies, so more chance for accidents.

    So much to learn.

  • Bee Diary: June 24, 2010

    Summer                              Waxing Strawberry Moon

    I got through 2.5 hive inspections.  The package colony has beautiful comb, an excellent egg-laying pattern and is now ready for the third hive box.  That’s as far as it needs to go as soon as it fills out at least 8 frames in the new hive box.  That should happen over the month of July.

    The divide has had three hive boxes for a week now and has begun to fill up frames in the third hive box though they are far from full.  I see no evidence that either of these two have swarmed and I saw few swarm cells.  Still a bit difficult for me to recognize for sure.

    All of the colonies were a bit more aggressive than usual this morning, a surprise to me since it’s sunny and warm, a good day to go gather nectar and pollen.  In my opinion there was no need to harass the bee-keeper, but the divide began whacking at me and got me in a tender space right on top of my thumb’s joint.  That hurt!  I completed that inspection, too, trying to follow the check every frame idea.

    When I got to the parent colony, I removed the two empty honey supers I put on last week.  Nothing.  Nature’s Nectar, a blog about bee-keeping kept up by the guy who sold me my queen and my package, however, said he had little new honey, too.  He’s thinking it will pick up this week.  It’s nice to have that kind of confirmatory message since it makes me think things are ok here at Artemis Hives.

    When I got the honey supers removed, I began my inspection of the top hive box.  It is full of bees.  Mad bees.  I to about half way through the inspection of the top box and the bees had begun to dive bomb my hands as I reached for a frame.  Game over.  I’m not willing to spend a week with swollen hands.

    I’ll go out tomorrow or Saturday to finish the inspection.  I don’t know for sure whether the irritation of hive inspections transmits from colony, but if it does, then the parent colony was ready for me.  I may try starting with it next time.

    Other than that my fears of a foul-brood infection seemed to be misplaced.  I saw none of the signs.  The egg laying pattern in the parent colony seems uneven to me, where the other two looked more compact. (better)  I’m still a long way from feeling sure about what I see and what to do with the information.  But, I’m much further along than I was in April.

  • A Bee Day

    Spring                                          Waxing Flower Moon

    The drought took a hit last night and this morning.  We had almost an inch of rain and it all fell right in the window when I needed to hive my bees.  Wouldn’t you know?

    Today had a bit of the comic routine to it.  I got up this morning ready to hive the bee package I picked up last evening.  All  I had to do was put the foundation into the frames.  The foundation is a beeswax coated sheet on which the bees build their hexagonal cells that house larvae, pollen and honey.  It’s flimsy and I remembered from somewhere that it just snapped right in.  Right.

    The first two I tried I bent the metal holding the edges together and in bending it loosed the beeswax from its sheet.  So, I went on the internet to see if I had the idea wrong. Well, I knew I had it wrong, I went on the net to find out how to fix it.  I came away convinced that you had to build foundation into the frame.  Which meant I had ten empty frames I couldn’t use.

    OMG.  I have bees to hive and no frames with foundations.  Long story short I drove back out to Nature’s Nectar where the guy said, “Bullshit.  Let me show you.”  And so he did.  It was a long drive for a lesson in frames and foundations, but worth it.

    When I returned, I did indeed pop the foundations in the frame.  All in knowing how.

    So, I gathered the copper clad hive cover, the hive box with its ten frames and foundations, the bottom board, the entrance reducer and a top board that goes over the topmost hive box.  My plan was to do the complete reversal on the existing colony as Jim of Nature’s Nectar suggested, take the feeder off of it and reuse it on the new colony.

    The smoker, still the least understood part of the business right now for me, lit, I went out to the colony that stung me five times just a week ago.  Since this was an extended operation, I put on the gloves this time.  The bees got mad, they don’t leave home much on rainy days and don’t  like getting off their loungers while watching the bee olympics or whatever.  Well protected, I went on about the business of putting the top most hive box on the bottom, the bottom most box on top, removing the feeder and reclosing the hive.

    No stings.  I had the feeder.  It was all good.  Except.  Several, by several I mean a lot, of bees had set up house keeping in the area under the feeder.  They did not want to leave.  Not even after I shook the feeder, whacked it on hay bales and generally tried to evict the squatters.  I couldn’t put it on the other hive with strangers living in it, so I had to go to the hardware store and get pails of the right size to make feeder pails.  Which meant I had to get an empty hive box from downstairs to cover the pail. After taking the hive box out, I realized I had to go back inside to get a pollen patty.

    Finally, I had everything and proceeded to whack the bee package on the ground to move all the bees to  the bottom of the wood and wire package.  The feeder, a tin can with holes in it, pries out and leaves a hole through which you pour the bees onto the bottom of the hive box from which you have removed the four central frames just for this purpose.  The bees, after being liberally sprayed with sugar and water syrup, should fall to the bottom of the hive.  There you spread them around.  That worked for most of them, but some of them didn’t get the memo.

    So, I had an opportunity to test whether I have a developing allergy to bee stings.  Nope.  I’m just fine.  The bees are in their new hive, and so, I hope, is the queen whom I’d forgotten to remove in my excitement.  When I did get her out, I released her by the direct release method–pry up the screen covering her small box and let her walk out–but some of her subjects took it upon themselves to sting me right about then, so I’m not sure she’s in the hive.  Though I think she is.  I’ll find out in a week when I check the frames to see if there any larvae.

    Anyhow, the bee day has ended.  Tomorrow is plant day.  Time in the garden.  After that, who knows?