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I've been keeping this blog for nine years and now there are over 1200 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

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.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Sad State of the Second BH Hive

We opened my struggling hive at Blue Heron today to find that it was still in terrible shape despite the combination of the two struggling hives and the installation of the very sparse nuc that we got late in the summer.

The top box was empty of supplies and brood - just empty comb.



In the second box, the bees only covered about three frames. Pitiful.


I have a new camera that I am not very pleased with so the pictures of the brood and larvae we found were not in focus. However, we did see brood and larvae.

Mostly we discussed the possibility of feeding this hive heavily through October and perhaps trying to overwinter it at my house rather than at the Blue Heron in a nuc box rather than in a hive box.









I brought a rapid feeder with me and would have put it over the hole in the inner cover but forgot that this hive had a ventilated hive cover (note to self: replace with solid cover ASAP). So I put the rapid feeder right above the frames.


I poured bee tea into it (that's thyme floating in the sugar syrup/chamomile tea).

'

The rapid feeder holds almost exactly 2 quarts of syrup. I'm going to try to bring honey for these bees on my next trip to the hive.




I turned the ventilated cover upside down, eliminating a top entry and potential robbing.


I closed up the hive and we went to lunch. I don't have much hope for this hive. I do like the plan, though, of overwintering in a nuc, should we be able to keep them alive through October. The field around the community garden there is so full of goldenrod and aster that there seems to be nectar to be had, if they can just collect some.


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Consolidating a Hive as Winter Preparation

We haven't checked on Blue Heron in about a month so we decided to go over there today. Julia's hives at home were markedly low on stores and not at all ready for winter so we assumed Blue Heron was probably in the same state. We didn't want to feed these hives but are afraid that we will need to.

Noah looks into his hive there - at least we see bees. We noted that the screened ventilated top cover needed to be replaced with a solid cover for winter.



Unlike Julia's hives at home, there was some honey in this hive. This frame is typical of what we saw....not full frames of honey but some honey on enough frames to fill a box.




When a frame was mostly empty as the one hanging on the rack is, we decided to leave it out of the hive to consolidate and give the bees less space as winter approaches.



Frames with brood or with nectar stored Julia put into one box. The box originally had about five frames in use and the other five were empty comb. So she substituted frames from the second box that were in use for the unused one (thus removing one box from the hive).




In the end she had a box full of frames that were in use - either for nectar storage or some brood.



When we opened the bottom box, we found the queen on the second frame we pulled. That felt good to all of us so we closed up the hive.



There was brood in the bottom box as well as you can see on the frame below.



Julia had brought honey to feed this hive so she put a baggie of honey on the hive and cut slits.



Now that we are committed to feeding these bees, they will need feed again probably in less than a week, although the field around the Blue Heron garden is full of blooming goldenrod and aster.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Speaking at Intown Jewish Preschool

Last Monday I gave three short workshops to the Intown Jewish Preschool - to the 2s, 3s, and 4-5s. The children were adorable. Each class tried on my grandson's bee veil, wore wings I borrowed from my friend Mickey, and felt honeycomb. We all did the round dance and the circle dance.

I had a great time and I think they did as well.









The fours/fives had been studying bees. They even knew the parts of the bee's body (the head, the thorax, the abdomen). I was impressed. And they asked really good questions.



This little girl had gotten to be the queen bee last year and couldn't wait for her turn to be the queen this year!



All in all, we had fun and I think the children learned a lot.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Blues for the Honey Contest

Well, my jarred honey - light and medium - did not place at the honey contest this year. While that honey may not have placed no matter what because there were a lot of great entries, I have to confess that I used all old jars and one should never do that, so next year, it's new jars for me. Much of honey judging has to do with presentation and mine, sad to say, were all in old jars (which show their wear or have smudges from the dishwasher, etc.) , but I got several blue ribbons and one red one.

My chunk honey came in with a blue ribbon. This is the first time I've used these jars that are designed specifically for chunk honey. I loved them and will use them again.



You know the wax block saga and this is pour # 6. I marked the pan that I used for this one, but likely it will not be used again for wax blocks, but rather for bar cookies or some other such cooking use.



And I got a blue ribbon for crafts - this was a quilted bag that I made - all original. I made up the pattern. The bee skep is on a pocket. It has pockets on the inside of the bag (six of them).



I got the idea for these handles from a book and really was pleased with how they turned out as well.



My beekeeping buddy, Noah, won the blue ribbon in cut comb honey and mine came in second with the red.  Mine had lots of problems - wet cappings, some honey on the bottom of the container, but what the judge said was the midline was not straight!  I laughed - it's the bees fault, then!

When you go foundationless, the bees determine where they want the midline rather than the beekeeper who has more control with wax foundation.  So I guess if I keep entering cut comb, I'm going to have to be more selective about my creative bees!

Noah also uses foundationless frames - I think his cut comb came from his top bar hive - and the judge essentially said it was a perfect entry.  I know he's not my kid, but I was so proud of him for getting that blue ribbon as a teenager.

My friend Scotti Bozeman won many ribbons including best in show!  This was only her second honey show.  She's in the center with the two Welsh honey judges, Evelyn and Marcy on either side.


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I Should Bake More Brownies: Results of the "Final" Pour

To do the final pour, I bought a brand new pan. I now own at least fifteen 8 inch square pans - some glass, some silicone, some nonstick metal, some aluminum. I should open a brownie bakery!

This new pan did not do well for the ninth and "final" pour. See the dimples on the surface? I didn't use mold release but it was a nonstick pan so this wasn't great.



Also I cut a new square of silk to filter the wax through, but there are particles in the wax that should have been caught by the filter. You know how there's many a slip twix the cup and the lip? Well, I think these particles fell into the wax as I took the silk off of the measuring cup at the end of the filtering. I'll work on a better system for that next year.



And the top of the block had an odd swirl to it. I did this pour during the day time and motion in the house makes this happen, even when the mold is in the oven and is covered with a pane of glass.



So choosing between the two, pour number six won out and that's the one I took to the show (on the right covered in plastic wrap).



Oh, and by the way, I was about to throw out the first piece of silk, now completely caked in wax and then thought, NO.  So I put it in a pan of boiling water, turned the water off, and in the morning the wax was on the water's surface and the silk was clean and ready to use again!  Hooray for recycling.
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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Just for the record

Pours seven and eight both cracked while cooling - a sign of cooling too fast - which doesn't make sense to me since they were cooling in the oven that was hot (190 degrees) when they were put in and cooled WITH the wax.  But whatever, both cracked down the center.

Pour number nine (and because of time and lack of any further patience, pour number last) is cooling in the oven as we speak.  Tomorrow I'll see what the results are.  If it's a disaster also, I still have the yellow wax, imperfect block to enter into the contest....along with a craft, a photo, medium liquid honey, light liquid honey, chunk honey and maybe cut comb - it isn't really contest-worthy, but I might enter anyway - and black jar (for taste alone).

Our annual picnic is really a big deal.  We have an auction which is our club's fund raiser for the year.  I've contributed a number of items for the auction:  three loaves of buttermilk honey bread that I baked today, three dozen Canadian honey-buttermilk homemade rolls (also baked today), a coffee mug with honey bees on it, a clock with honey bees on it, and my favorite: a dinner for four people that I will cook at my house with every item on the menu having honey as one of the ingredients.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pour Seven, but Who's Counting?




For what it's worth, the yellow wax poured into a relatively pretty block - still with flaws on the corners and edges.  I polished it with panty hose, wrapped it in plastic and then.....

while my granddaughter took her nap today, I REPOURED the light wax for pour number SEVEN.  I poured this one into the Pyrex glass mold that had the blemishes on it in my first try, but this time instead of going without mold release, I used Ivory liquid.  Maybe this one will be the best, but if not, I'm entering the flawed but really pretty pour number SIX.

Or maybe there will be yet another pour before the contest on Sunday afternoon!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

And The Results......Wax Block Blah

Well, the block in the oven looks good at first glance - no ripples, came easily out of the mold, no white blemishes.....but of course, there are imperfections that don't make me happy.


















The block that didn't cool in the oven cracked all over the place.  See the wax is yellower but this is of course unusable without repouring.

















Here's what's wrong with the almost perfect block.  At the corners are little bumps and depressions. They are almost unseen but a judge will see them.  I think it's because it must have been cooler in the corners of the pan and the hot wax solidified there - or more likely wax splashed there while I was pouring at a different part of the pan and solidified before the molten wax joined it.


















A better view of the problem and it's on three of the four corners.


















So the good news is that I have enough wax to remelt the very yellow wax and repour it tonight.  I'll use the pan that I used for the uncracked block and cool it again in the oven.  So....on to pour six.....GRRRR.

Sorry about the picture issue - Picasa is letting me down again.

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