• Tag Archives stings
  • Bee Diary: Bottling 2011

    Lughnasa                                                      Waxing Harvest Moon

    The honey harvest has moved to the bottling stage.  Kate has dozens of jars filled already, quarter pint, half pint, pint and quart (peanut butter jars). We’ll give them out as gifts, tips for good service, for barter.

    I’d say our harvest this year was twice what it was last year, an amount that seems to make sense, so I think two colonies is plenty.

    Mark Odegard’s label, utilizing art work from a friend of his in Duluth, is snazzy.  It features a northern Artemis, bow pulled with geese flying above her.  I’m going to Duluth this week or next to deliver payment for the art work.  Honey.

    Kate’s quick treatment of my multiple stings:  cold shower, benadryl and prednisone minimized the post-sting trauma.  I have no psychological aversion to the bees; they were just doing their bee thing, so bee-keeping will continue as part of our gardening, orchard, apiary set-up here.

    The honey harvest has this strange phenomena associated with it, one I imagine farmers feel when they harvest crops in the fall.  All the work, hiving the packages, feeding them, putting pollen in, adding hive boxes and doing reversals, putting on a queen excluder and slapping on the honey supers all lead to this one day, removing the honey supers, extracting the honey and bottling it.  All that work and a very quick finish.  Very satisfying, but a little strange in the brevity of the final, sought after act, the penultimate purpose of all of it.

    The ultimate purpose, of course, is honey consumption.

    Almost done with the bee work for the year.  I’m reading to lay down my smoker and hive tool and to pick up the Oxford Latin Dictionary.  Ovid will get more time now.



  • 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: Supplemental

    Summer                            Waxing Strawberry Moon

    Vega took a nap on the couch this afternoon.  Not unusual.  She likes that spot. When I came upstairs after my workout, she was still on the couch and I went over to pet her, as I sometimes do.  In looking at her I noticed that her eye looked strange, swollen.  Oh, boy, was it swollen.  Her muzzle, too.  Vega had become curious about the bee colonies.

    Bees know how to deal with curiosity, nip it in the muzzle and the eyes and the mouth.

    When I took the bee course, more than one person asked about dogs, concerned that the dogs would attack or knock over the hives.  Each time the question was raised, I could see a slight sense of amusement on the bee folks.

    “You don’t have to worry about the bees,” they said.  But, they might have usefully added, you might need to worry about the dog.

    In other bee news I forgot to mention that during hive inspections last week, I saw a new bee work its way out of the hexagonal cell in which it had grown from egg to larvae to pupae to adult bee.  She gnawed away the cap, wriggling to get out, but needing to remove almost all of the cell’s beeswax cap before she could get free.

    When she emerged, she looked like a puppy, all shiny and eager, untrammeled by the world.  Then, she flew off and got to work.  That’s the way bees are.