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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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Monday, October 15, 2012

Yet Another (two) Wax Block(s)

Well, I'm at it again:  The Great Wax Block Saga.

Last night I poured two wax blocks for the Tara Contest and hoped at least one of them would be good this morning.  When I got ready to pour, I pulled out my piece of silk and found that a wax moth or some other creature had feasted on it:



















So I resorted to using panty hose - not as good a filter, but hey, it's what I had.



















The panty hose is stretched over a measuring cup with a pouring lip that has been heated in a pan of simmering water so the wax won't solidify as it hits the glass.

I cooled one block in the downstairs oven and the other on the counter top.  I heated the oven to its lowest temperature:  170 and then turned it off before putting in the wax.  Inside the oven while it is heating is a roasting pan filled with hot water and the mold for the block:


I poured one round mold and one in a bread pan.   This morning both were good, but the bread pan had striated lines on the edges of the block:

I polished it while I put the round mold in the freezer - it wouldn't come out of the mold and sometimes the freezer for about 30 minutes will do the trick.  As a last resort, I could use this block but I don't want the striations.

Voila!  The round mold came out just lovely:

I can see a couple of specks in it - result of the use of panty hose instead of silk, but it is a gorgeous wax block.  I've packed it up (after polishing and polishing with panty hose) to go to the show tonight as well.

It rides in its own Tupperware container and sits on a linen napkin - throne for a queen, I guess.

Wish me luck and I'll let you know how it goes.



Entries for Tara Honey Show

I belong to a couple of bee clubs.  The Tara Bee Club is having its honey contest tonight.  I have to work until 6:30 and I live 16 miles in going home traffic from the Tara meeting in Forest Park, Georgia.  They are accepting honey entries from 6:45 - 7:15 so I will arrive at best just under the wire.  As a result I had to get everything ready last night so that I only have to take the plastic wrap off of the jars, put on new tops, and hand them to the steward.

Generally to a honey show, I take a leg of panty hose or a piece of silk for polishing, gloves to pick up the jars, a flashlight to look for fingerprints, a squirt jar of water in case something needs cleaning, toothpicks for last minute bubble removal, silver demitasse spoons for equalizing jar fills, and lint free cloths for polishing jars.  I'll probably have all of that with me, but in reality, I won't have time tonight.  So last night I spent hours getting my entries ready for the show.

I poured two wax blocks and crossed my fingers until this morning.

I polished, equalized, and de-bubbled jars (actually only one jar had bubbles).  I put new tops for each jar in plastic Ziplocs.  I put all the finished products in a sectioned box:



So I'm entering (from top of photo to bottom) black jar, creamed honey, light honey, chunk honey (and a wax block - see next post).  You can see the flashlight peeking out of one of the jar lid filled sections and the new tops for the jars in their baggies.  

I only have light honey to enter this year since Jeff and I only really harvested from Five Alive and Stonehurst.  Like last year, the Stonehurst honey has crystallized early - it was kind of medium - so all we have is the light honey from Five Alive.

We'll see if anything places - I've not done great in honey shows this year, but if I say so myself, the creamed honey we are entering into Tara is really fabulous.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pests in the Hive - Ants and SHB

One of my hives at Stonehurst is the subject of a UGA study (along with a number of other beekeepers' hives).  The researcher came last week and emailed me that he thought the hives were so infested with SHB that they would not survive the winter.

I went over today with the only small hive beetle trap I could quickly find that didn't need an Imrie shim.  It was an AJ's trap.  I recently won two beetle traps like AJ's from Buster's Bees at a Tara Beekeepers meeting, but I couldn't find them today.

I opened the smallest hive and there were SHB EVERYWHERE on the top cover and in the corners.  I didn't see the SHB in the actual hive, which was comforting.  First I used a funny suction instrument that John Jones gave me.  I tried....I really did, but I only sucked one SHB all the way into the bottle.  The rest were in the suction tube and I had no idea how to manage them.  So I gave up on the method and installed the AJ's.












The good news is that the larger hive (fartherest away in the picture) felt heavy and when I opened it, there was not a single SHB.  In the smaller hive beside the smoker, were the tons of SHB - probably at least 150 on the top cover.

I left the hive with an oil filled AJs and we'll see if it catches any of them.  I also put a surround box with a rapid feeder filled with last year's honey on the small hive.


After that I went to Sebastian's to see if that hive needed food.  I opened it to find that ants had taken up residence:


I wish you would LOOK at all the ants.  Funny thing, they weren't in the rapid feeder and there was still some crystallized honey in it.  I had two jars of last year's honey so I refilled the rapid feeder.

I think I'll go back and sprinkle cinnamon all over the inner cover.

At the bee club meeting this week, the president asked who wasn't feeding their bees.  I didn't know whether to raise my hand or not.  I'm not feeding mine in the way she meant - with sugar syrup.  I am feeding the ones that are light on stores with last year's honey.

After the bee meeting in Massachusetts, I want to raise bees that aren't dependent on my interference and don't need sugar syrup to make it through.  I also was scanty in my harvest this year to make sure that the bees are OK for the winter.


It's a Long Way to Tipperary....

I just got back from a vacation trip to Ireland.  I was lucky enough to get a seat on the trip done by the Embry Hills Methodist Church (many members of my book club belong to this church).  Their choir was taking a tour to Ireland and they had some empty seats that they needed to fill.  Since I knew a number of people on the trip because we are all in book club together, I was more than glad to fill a seat on the plane.

One of the places we stopped was Clonmel, a town in Tipperary.  According to Wikipedia, Clonmel is derived from the Gaelic:  Cluain Meala, meaning "honey meadow" .  In Ireland, rewards are given for "Tidy Towns" and we never saw any trash anywhere - every little town was tidy, and Clonmel was no exception.

Despite the fact that Clonmel (Meadow of Honey) refers, according to history, to the fertile soil, I was nonetheless determined to find some Clonmel honey to bring home to Gina, Julia, Jeff (and for me).  My roommate and I took a taxi into the tiny town and walked the streets to find local honey.  We were told we had just missed a "honey show" the weekend before.

We found two places where I bought local honey and the honey is lovely:



















I watched for honey every time we stopped to shop, but I found the most in Clonmel.

Snake in the ..... Bee Boxes

I've been a little overwhelmed going into fall - too much going on in my life; too many responsibilities.  So I have some bee boxes that need the drawn comb frozen to kill the wax moth, but haven't had time to think about focusing on it.  Meanwhile I left the bee boxes on my driveway so that the sun and light would discourage any eager wax moth.

Before I left for vacation, I lifted up a bee box to see how the comb was faring and I found a garter snake curled on top of the box!



















I'm not used to thinking of my phone as a camera, so I ran inside to get my camera.  By the time I returned, Mr. Garter Snake was no longer curled on the box but had made it to the driveway.

Here's a more up close and personal shot of him:

























So this year I've seen ear wigs, roaches, ants, lizards, and small hive beetles in my hives.  This is my first snake in the bee hive in seven years!

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