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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.
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Saturday, September 30, 2006
I did a second sugar shake on both hives, emptying one pound of powdered 10xxx sugar into each hive between the frames.
The ghost bees (see second picture) begin to clean themselves and in the grooming process, hopefully clean off any opportunistic varroa mite.
To check the mite count I cut poster board the size of the space under my hive beneath the screened bottom board (mine doesn't have a slot for sliding a sticky board in and out - bought from Dadant - don't do it!).
I covered the poster board with vaseline to make the mites stick and slid it under the hives. I'll check at 5 PM tomorrow - 24 hours later - to get a mite count. I'll report what I find here on the blog.
It's hard to take a picture in focus of this trap because the beetles are dead in apple cider vinegar. The first picture is from Destin where it looks as if there are at least 8 small hive beetles drowned in the trap. One entered it as I was watching as if that were a good place to hide from me during the inspection - little did he know!
The trap on Bermuda had many more: they lined the bottom and at least five were floating on the top. The bees had propolized about a one inch section of the opening so I slit it open with my hive tool.
I didn't try to empty the trap - I'll do that at my next inspection. I simply returned the frame with the trap to position 1 in the super.
In front of Bermuda, there were scores of dead bees and yellow jackets today. I have recently seen the yellow jackets congregating outside the front of the hive about a foot from the porch. I guess robbing happened and bees and yellow jackets died.
When I inspected the hives today, I put the entrance reducer on both hives. If the yellow jackets continue their assault, I'll put the robber screen back on the hives.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Last night was the Metro Beekeeper's Association Picnic. Many items were donated for the auction, held to benefit the club's projects.
The three plates of rolls tied with blue ribbons are Canadian Honey Buttermilk rolls that I baked and donated. I also made two honeybee potholders sitting on the front edge of the table. I was pleased that all were sold. I bought a couple of things, but really wanted a solar wax melter - not offered for auction. Guess I'll have to build my own.
There was a honey contest. I decided to be brave and enter it. I entered my chunk honey in the contest and also entered the "black jar contest" in which honey is judged only for taste.
The chunk honey was entered in three jars as per the rules. My chunk honey won second place! I was so excited. Most of the winners were seasoned beekeepers. I think I may have been the only first year beekeeper to win a prize - I was thrilled with my red ribbon and my cash prize!
Here's a blurry picture of the bee, covered with powdered sugar, flying away from the hive.
To see if any Varroa mites were dislodged, I set up an aluminum tray and put vegetable oil in it to keep the mites in the tray. I'll check today to see what the numbers are.
Then in 10 days, I shake the sugar again, as well as in 10 days after that. Then this phase of IPM will be done for me....on to the trachael mite - oh, the joys of fall beekeeping.
I don't know if I have Varroa mites, but if I don't it will be a miracle since they're everywhere. The master beekeepers on the Beemaster's Forum have been advising that the beekeeper use a "sugar shake" in which you shake a one pound box of powdered sugar between the frames in the top brood box (so the sugar can fall through both levels of the box).
Here is a quote from Brian Bray - a well-established beekeeper on the Forum:
"Use powered sugar. Use a shaker of some type to dust the bees down between the frames. The powered sugar will knock off enough of the mites so you'll be have an idea of their concentration. You should shake every 10 days for a month to decrease their population before the winter. A SBB helps as the mites and the excess sugar fall through the hive. The sugar shake works because the mites are dislodged from the Bees as they groom themselves and each other to get rid of the sugar. The sugar is usually converted to stores."
Well, first I had to buy powdered sugar. There was some discussion about whether the powdered sugar had starch in it or not and both Brian Bray and Michael Bush, both wise beekeepers, in separate postings said, "IMO powdered sugar is the best." I have to confess that I spent some time on Google searching to find out what brand IMO Powdered Sugar is before I realized that they were both saying, "In My Opinion...." DUH.
So I found powdered sugar at Costco and then went to Target for a shaker. I bought a cocktail shaker because it would hold a pound of powdered sugar and I wouldn't have to refill it with bee gloves on. I started out with the shaker, but........several vigorous shakes and the top flew off and landed on the hives, disturbing the bees more than the sugar had. So I simply sprinkled it by hand.
I brushed it off the tops of the frames into the spaces between and sugar covered the bees. They looked like little ghost bees. Hopefully they will clean each other off, removing Varroa mites in the process.
Integrated Pest management: "An approach to managing pests that is based on the coordinated use of one or more methods and that seeks to minimize chemical inputs."
The small hive beetle is one pest that has invaded my hives. I want it not to be happy. I ordered from Brushy Mountain their small hive beetle trap and installed it in my hives. Supposedly the beetle likes apple cider vinegar and will fall into this beetle sized vat of vinegar and not be able to get out.
The trap is installed on an empty frame in a super. I used #6 1/2" wood screws (as per instructions) and screwed it to the frame. I then filled the three compartments with apple cider vinegar and put the trap-equipped frame in position 10 in a super on each hive.
If I successfully kill beetles this way, I will have happier bees, no chemical involvement, and I will be a happier beekeeper! I'll take pictures and post the results on my next inspection.
Monday, September 11, 2006
To view this album, click on the picture above and see what you think about our hard work.
Things I have learned from this honey harvesting experience:
1. Next year get mosquito netting as a filter since the Internet site from which I got the idea used that. Our filters took days to filter the honey through and I think that was way too long.
2. It's much more fun to do the bee thing with kids than without - can't wait until my grandson is old enough for a bee suit!
I don't know what the problem was in the slow speed. I put the jar outside in the heat; I used a cloth paint filter; I crushed the wax well. The web page says not to use cloth like cheese cloth to filter this, but a paint filter is designed to filter paint.
Next year I'll try to find mosquito netting as the web page originator suggested.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Here's Ella with her honey hourglass and you can see that the filtering has begun. Hers went through quickly.
And here's Gabe with his honey hourglass - don't be fooled by his apparently badly injured finger - it's actually just paper towel and duct tape - he wanted to experiment with the many uses of duct tape!
They are expecting the honey to filter all day tomorrow. I hope by the end of tomorrow they'll have full bottom jars of honey.
(Post script: Ella's filtered quickly and Gabe's did like mine - took quite a while to go through.)
I found an Internet site with a suggestion for individual honey filtering.
We set up pairs of two pint jars. The first jar is empty and has paint filter covering the top. Then the brass ring is screwed on to hold the paint filter on the jar.
The second jar is filled with the crushed honey comb and honey. This one was quite sticky so we had to wipe the outside of the jar to clean it up. The brass ring was put on this jar without the top.
The empty jar is placed on top of the full jar, brass ring to brass ring, and the whole contraption is taped together with duct tape (another use for duct tape!). Then the pair of jars is turned so that the full jar is on top and the honey begins to filter into the jar below.
Gabe has just turned his jar over....we'll see how the honey flows.
Today I had great helpers for the honey harvest. My friends Tom and Gail brought their two children over to help harvest the honey.
We cut the honey off of the frames and Gabe and Ella used pestles to crush the honey in the big pan.
They were great at smashing the comb and crushing the honey.
The plan was for each of them to take a straining jar home with them to watch as the honey was strained.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
When I first take a frame out of the super to harvest the comb, it is covered with bees. First I stand right in front of the hive from which the frame came and shake the frame hard at least twice to shake the bees onto the entrance of the hive.
Next I walk the frame away from the hive and over to the empty super where I am collecting the filled frames. I use my yellow bristled bee brush to brush the bees off of the frame. It's hard to take such a picture while I am by myself.
In the first picture you see the bee brush and the now almost free of bees frame.
In the second picture I am brushing the bees off of the comb. The brush is a blur. This is one of the advantages of the fact that my digital camera has a moment between my pushing the button and the picture actually occurring. I pushed the button with the brush in my hand and quickly (too quickly obviously) returned my brush to action by the time the shutter opened and closed!