• Tag Archives package bees
  • Experiments in Photoshop

    Winter                      New Garden Planning Moon

    Sure enough.  Order forms for the 2012 bees came in the mail today.  Order will go out tomorrow.











    Went to my first session of Photoshop I tonight.  Champlain High School.  See first rough effort here.  Boy did I need help.  Began to make sense right away as the guy showed us various tools, options to use, but I could make no progress on my own.  Another session next week, then Photoshop II in February.  Finally, I’ll get to use the power of this software I bought last September.

  • Bee Diary March 26, 2011

    Spring                                               Waning Bloodroot Moon

    All three colonies are dead.  I rechecked them last weekend.  I have ordered three packages of bees, the larger 3 pounds boxes, that will arrive in early April, perhaps April 9th.  Hiving 500honey-extraction_0231the new packages takes place as soon as possible after I pick up the bees from Nature’s Nectary outside Stillwater.  They may wait a day, but not more.

    I’m weighing whether to take the route of several beekeepers I know who buy new packages each season and harvest all the honey that’s made, rather than trying to overwinter the colonies.  If I do decide to go that route, we’ll have to sell the honey to recoup the costs, perhaps show a little profit.

    There are arguments for and against this method.  Obviously it gives the bees only a season of a life, that’s a definite mark against it.  On the other hand, if colonies die anyhow, then there’s really no change except the certainty of their death.

    This does allow harvesting the maximum from a colony’s first year, which would have added about 100 pounds of honey last year, or maybe 12 gallons to the five we collected.  On the other hand, it doesn’t allow for maximum production because an over-wintered colony produces more, since it already has its stores and will proceed to fill honey supers right away.

    Another positive would be holding diseases down since they would have not have the overwintered, weakened condition that allows some diseases to take hold.

    As I write this, I can see the argument for only one season of the bees.  Still not sure which say I’ll swing.

    This will be the third season at Artemis Hives and I have a few new management ideas in addition to the one I’m considering above.  Instead  of a third hive box, I will use two honey supers instead.  This gives the same volume as a hive box, but in lighter by half units.  This will also make retrieving all the the honey easier if I decide to go with one season only for all 400_honey-extraction_0225the colonies.  I’m also going to check out better ways to have a bee proof environment in which to extract honey.  It was pretty bad last year.

    In spite of the cold weather projected now through June according to Paul Douglas, we will hive the bees in early April and begin to plant cold weather crops as soon as the soil becomes friable.  Early April through early October is a major season here at Artemis Gardens and Hives.

    At the end of it Kate and I will pack our bags and sail away to South America.  We’ll greet October 28th, 2011 somewhere in Ecuador.  That’s the time the world changes according to one understanding of the Mayan calendar.

  • Getting Things Ready

    Beltane                                       Waning Flower Moon

    After checking the parent colony with the queen excluder in, I found larvae in the top hive box.  That’s evidence of the queen.  That meant I shifted the middle hive box over to the new foundation and bottom board.  A syrup feeder pail went on top of the new, child colony.  This calms everything down and allows for a peaceful slow release of the queen tomorrow.  Leaving the queen excluder on the hive box in which I discovered larvae, I put two honey supers on it and replaced the inner cover and the telescoping outer cover.  The parent colony now has two hive boxes, one with a queen and brood, plus the other, lower box, which will get reversed on top in 7-10 days.

    Tomorrow I’ll check the package colony for larvae a second time.  If they have none, I’ll have to get another queen for them soon.  If there is no queen in the hive, the lack of her pheromones turns on egg laying in the workers, but, since they’re not fertilized they produce only drones.  Once a hive converts to worker egg-laying apparently you have to start over.

    This has been a busy couple of weeks for the bees.  Kate’s been making supers and frames and hive boxes, too.  If the divide and the package colony take, things will calm down for a while until the honey flow ends.  Then, there’s an end of the whole process I haven’t encountered.  Honey.

    Two more bags of composted manure on the leek/sugar pod pea bed, another on the sun trap and a lot of planting.  The herb spiral has the herbs Kate bought Friday at Mickman’s.  I also planted beets, mustard greens, fennel, onions and a pepper plant in the sun trap.  The tomatoes and other peppers will go there, too.  Those two beds, along with the other bed where I have green onions plants along with radicchio, beets from seed and thyme will be our kitchen garden for the growing season.

    Kate did a lot of weeding, including the blueberry patches.  It really makes a difference to have her focused on that aspect of gardening.  She’s also in charge of pruning which has its on rules.

    The leeks, onions, kale, chard, garlic, parsnips, butternut squash, other beets and carrots will also be available during the growing season of course, but most of these will get canned or dried or frozen for the winter.

    I would not like to do the cost accounting on these vegetables and the fruit because the two fences and Ecological gardens have created a lot of sunk costs.  It will take years for them to zero out the costs, more years, I imagine, than we have left in this house.  In our case, of course, that’s not the big point.  The big point is a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle and in that regard the cost accounting has already tilted in our favor.