Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Nectar Sources

We pulled honey from our hive with the Hawaiian queen. Our Hawaiian queen (and her bees) are lighter than our Russian and split queen. Going along with the theme...the Hawaiian honey is lighter than our Russian honey. Of course, this has nothing to do with the coloring of the bees, but we thought it was interesting. All this means is the Hawaiians got a good part of their nectar from a source that is different than the Russians. Another HUGE difference...when we took the honey frames from the Hawaiians, they were very chill about it. Just picture them peeking out of the hive and looking at us like, "Hey!!!, what's up??" No anger, no chasing, no increase in hive sound. These bees are just really calm and relaxed. The Russians however....well, they were another story. They were almost homicidal! They chased us down the driveway and hung out by the garage....1 even chased me onto the back porch. The Russians didn't give up easily either. We found out they have very good memories because a couple of them hung out for about 30 minutes reminding us how unhappy they were with us! It seemed that every time we thought it was safe to remove our veils, 1 would be there to start "bumping" us in the head. Don't get me wrong...we love our Russians and they are hearty, productive bees. They are just a bit more temperamental. We've been told the Hawaiian queen may not tolerate our winter well. As chill as she and her bees are, we are certainly hoping we heard wrong and she comes through the winter with flying colors!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Solar Wax Melter

If you go down a few posts when we were extracting the honey, you'll see a picture of the wax "cappings" the bees put on the honey once it has reached the ideal percentage of moisture. (which is typically 17% or below) When you extract honey using an extractor, you cut those cappings off and the honey will be free to flow out of the comb. We let the cappings drain for a few days (and actually got a few more bottles of honey off what was on the cappings) and then gathered the wax cappings to melt. We saw online how to build our own solar wax melter. It required a styrofoam cooler, a plastic food container filled with a little water, paper towel, and a piece of glass that acted as the lid for the cooler. We put paper towel over the plastic food container and secured the paper towel with a rubber band. We set the clump of wax on top of the paper towel. Crazy Bee Man put duct tape around the glass so we didn't cut ourselves on rough edges. We put the homemade wax melter out in the hot sun and let nature do the work. The wax melted and filtered through the paper towel. The piece you see in the picture sits on top of the water, pretty as you please! Now we wouldn't win any wax contests at a fair, but this was our first time and we were pretty pleased with the results. We can melt this wax back down and put it on the frames for the bees, (it has been our experience that bees accept the plastic frames better when there is wax on them) or we could make lotions, salves, balms, etc. with the wax. I really wish our computer screens had scratch and sniff, because this wax smells incredible!!!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cleaning Ladies!

Did you know bees clean up after themselves?? They're kinda special that way. After filling the honey jars, we carried the bucket outside and let the bees get the leftovers. We did this with anything that had honey in it. The bees LOVED us! You can see a bunch of them in this picture. They go in there, gather up the leftovers, and carry it back to their hives. When we went back after a couple hours, you would've never known there was honey in there. It wasn't even sticky anymore! Gotta love these girls!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Honey Bottling

After extracting the honey, we left it to strain and set up a few days. By letting it set, the air bubbles rise and debris that may have made it through the strainer will rise to the top of the honey where you can skim it off. We used a 400 micron strainer, so we didn't see any debris on the top of our honey. We then began the bottling process! We ended up with 42 bottles of honey, and will get another 2 or 3 from the wax cappings we cut off the frames. (see previous post) The fruit of our precious bee's labor. These girls are amazing!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Our First Honey Harvest!

Oh my word.....we got out and pulled frames of honey from 2 of our 5 hives. This is the 1st time we have ever done this (and we are VERY excited), but it is hard work!! We currently have 5 hives, but have been feeding sugar syrup to 2 of these hives. (1 was a swarm we caught, the other was a nuc we purchased and received in April) Although the bees make "honey" out of the sugar syrup, it is not "real" honey, so you cannot package that and sell it. Ethically, anyway. We ended up with 14 frames of honey from the 2 Russian hives we have. We were told last year when we purchased the Russians (after having almost lost everything) that Russians are a bit more aggressive, but are strong bees and excellent honey producers. They have proven this to be true! If you remember, we split this hive earlier this year. We really weren't expecting much since we had split them. These girls are monsters though! Wow, do they work hard! We pulled 3 frames off the hive where the queen hatched. (I also got a great picture of this beauty I will share later!) The other 11 frames we got from this queen's mama and her hive. All this honey, and we left them plenty! We also checked our hive with the Hawaiian queen. We will probably get about 8 frames of honey from them, they just didn't have it all capped yet. I'll have to do a post on the honey making process....these bees are really amazing creatures! We've been told to expect 2 1/2 pounds of honey from each shallow frame. I'll let you all know how much we end up with and share some pictures from the extracting process.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Busy as Bees!

We have basically just been letting the bees do what the bees do. We haven't really dug down into the hive to do inspections as the queen is busy laying and the bees are making honey. Now that our nectar flow is basically over, we will get a little deeper into our hives to see what is going on. I did like this picture from our last hive check (to see if we needed to add another box to our hives). Most of these girls have their heads in the cells and their bottoms sticking out. They were either adding or taking honey. These ladies are definitely 'busy as bees'! I will be posting pictures of when we extract some of this delicious honey!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hive Inspection

We went and did an inspection in 2 hives of friends of ours. Both hives had swarmed. 1 had no queen, but had 2 capped queen cells waiting to hatch...the other had a very active queen. I've enclosed pictures of the 2 queen cells. What is very interesting is it appears there may have been a hatched queen, because the 1 picture shows a hatched queen cell (the bottom of the cell is open), and next to it, a queen cell that appears to have been ripped open by another queen to kill the queen in the cell. Worker bees often make more than 1 queen cell. The 1st queen to hatch will look for the cells of other queens, chew out a spot in the side, and sting the unhatched queen. You see evidence of that in one of the pictures. That queen may not have made it back from her mating flight, or she may not have mated well and was killed by the workers in the hive. Whatever the case, there were 2 new capped queen cells in this hive. They also had 2 queen cups right in the middle of a honey frame! The other hive had a working queen and she was doing a great job! The brood frame is just want you want to see....a great brood pattern, lots of capped brood, and honey and pollen in the corners of the frame.  The last picture is purely honey....wonderful, delicious, HEAVY, honey!