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Thursday, April 06, 2017

The start of a New Year!

2017 Season Update

What a wonderful day here in the bee yard!  Well, actually, it is pretty overcast and cloudy.  It also looks like it's fixing to rain.  But we are still pretty busy getting ready for the new season.

Last weekend I had some wonderful folks show up to help me get the bee yard up and running.  You have no idea how much I was worried about how this year was going to happen.  I have a lot weighing on the year ahead and have to make sure that I am successful and finally turn a profit.  With the set backs I have had in the last few months I was starting to wonder if that would happen.

Saturday was spent getting things ready and organized for Sunday which is when the bee boxes would get scraped and cleaned along with the frames.  We need about 200 more frames put together to get things going but we have a great start to the year.

Components of the Hive

The bees are coming, the bees are coming!

So let's start where it all begins.

The bee year has a whole lot of different seasons, or what I call seasons to it.  At the end of a harvest year, which is usually around September here, things have to be tidied up and put away.  We also have to make sure that the bees are set for the winter ahead.  They must have food supplies stored so that they can survive.  To cut down on cold air and hopefully stop critters from trying to sneak in the hive to stay warm (mostly mice) we place the entrance reducer in the bottom opening .  Now here I usually just have two Deep Boxes in the hive.  Every year whether a hive has survived or not I have always had honey left in the boxes so that tells me that they have what they need.

Before the bees arrive I have to make sure I have things set up and ready in the yard for them to get put into their new hives.

Bees arrive in 3 lb. packages which look like the picture below.
3 lb. box of bees

Inside the box is not only the 3 lbs. of bees but a queen which is in a small cage.
You can see her in his hand below.  One end has marshmallow in it so when she goes inside of the box the other bees will free her by eating the marshmallow.  The queen cage is inserted first between two frames. the bees are gently poured in on top of her.  Pretty amazing sight to watch them all wiggle down inside the hive and get settled in.  Now after this I won't bother them for a few days.  When things have calmed down a bit I will check the hive to make sure the queen in released. The bottom right photo is what I hope to find once they get crack-a-lacking.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

How Long do Bees Live and what kinds of jobs do they have?

How Long do Bees Live and what kinds of jobs do they have?

This question comes up a lot while I am at the market.  Bees have much more work to do in the spring and summer.  The flying alone wears them and their wings out.  In the winter their primary job is to keep the queen warm and fed and the hive alive.  They live on what the summer and spring bees have stored.  I found the following explanation on Wikipidia and thought it was explained perfectly.  So I did what I do best.  I copied and pasted it here for you!  


Female worker bees                                                          

Almost all the bees in a hive are female worker bees. At the height of summer when activity in the hive is frantic and work goes on non-stop, the life of a worker bee may be as short as 6 weeks; in late autumn, when no brood is being raised and no nectar is being harvested, a young bee may live for 16 weeks, right through the winter. During its life a worker bee performs different work functions in the hive, largely dictated by the age of the bee.
PeriodWork activity
Days 1-3Cleaning cells and incubation
Day 3-6Feeding older larvae
Day 6-10Feeding younger larvae
Day 8-16Receiving nectar and pollen from field bees
Day 12-18Beeswax making and cell building
Day 14 onwardsEntrance guards; nectar, pollen, water and
propolis foraging; robbing other hives

Male bees (drones)

Drones are the largest bees in the hive (except for the queen), at almost twice the size of a worker bee. They do not work, do not forage for pollen or nectar and have no other known function than to mate with new queens and fertilize them on their mating flights. A bee colony generally starts to raise drones a few weeks before building queen cells so they can supersede a failing queen or prepare for swarming. When queen-raising for the season is over, bees in colder climates drive drones out of the hive to die, biting and tearing their legs and wings.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 23, 2014 The Nuc Box

So today the weather was calmer and I headed out to the yard to check on the nuc.  I opened the top of the box and flipped the inner cover around so they could have access to coming and going with a small opening rather than have the bottom board set up wide open.  I put a stick underneath the top of the box lid cause I had some goofy bees that were not smart enough to realize once the top was closed they would be squished.  (Yikes)  Anyway when I turned the inner cover over I checked on the bees and they were pretty calm and quiet.  That usually is a good sign.  Jim had all the bee stuff in his truck so I could not poke around at all to make sure she was ok, hopefully when he comes home I will be able to check things out and I will let you know what we found later.

Inner Cover with screen over the hole.

Bees around the queen cage which is between
frame two and three from the top.

15 uses for Honey from Mother Earth Living!

Came across a great article by Mother Earth Living and thought I woulld share because so many folks have so many great ideas on how can be used!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The nuc box

When we picked up the 25 boxes of bees last week we were given a spare queen in case something would have happened to the girls that came with each box.  Since they were looking pretty good we had decided that we would create a small hive (4) frames and add some bees from other hives along with the extra queen just in case we lost a hive because of a swarm.
Last night Jim had the hive box all set up and ready to go.  He screened it in so the girls we added would not leave to go back to their original hives and added a frame of honey and pollen.  When I went out to put her in, there were a ton of bees inside the box trying to rob the honey out of it.  There I was trying to balance a frame of bees in one hand the queen in another and bees coming and going.  I ended up putting the the queen in and gently brushing only one frame of bees in the box before I quickly closed it.
When Jim got home he went out to the yard, pulled frames from two other hives and after he made sure the queen was not on the frames he brushed those bees into the box.
So now we wait.  They have honey and pollen which should keep content for a couple of days, now we just have to see if they are all going to get along and if they will take to their new queen.  Time will tell.

Movie showing nuc box

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Morning Sunshine!

Maybe I am being a bit optimistic as it is slightly overcast but Easter Weekend is supposed to be totally amazing as far as the weather goes.  We will be at the Toledo Farm Market on Saturday from 9 till 1.  I have Beeswax candles! We have Orange, Lemon, Wintergreen and Peppermint Lip Balm!  We have Hot and Spicy Honey Mustard!  And we have Honey.  We have been selling out because I am trying to limit what I bring down so I can continue to come to market for awhile longer.  I have mentioned that I will probably end up buying honey from another beekeeper this year so I can keep coming down to market until our Honey Harvest is in.  I am going to try something my "Great" and I mean amazing Uncle Ted told me about.  I will start going through the frames and instead of waiting till the whole box is full of capped honey I will take a frame here and there and replace those frames with empty frames.  I mention my Uncle Ted.  We lost him last year.  No I don't mean he is out wandering around in the Bee Yard, but he headed up to heaven.  He was a very amazing man, the folks whose lives he touched were truly blessed.  His family I know will miss him horribly but he left behind quiet a large legacy.  He might not still be here but he is in the mind and hearts of hundreds of beekeepers who he taught and shared so much with.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What does a beekeeper do when the harvest is soo weak that she can not go to market?

This years harvest was the worst that we have ever had.  We have come to the realization that nature won out this year and things were out of our control.  Whether it was the heavy rains early on in the spring or just natures way of adjusting things, we definitely were on the short end of the stick.

I just finally got the nerve up to take a peek at the tank and found it was only 1/2 full which means we only have about 500 lbs. left.  We are averaging about  60 lbs. or so a week so I am think 8 to 10 weeks left of market.

I still have wax so I will be busy making candles and lip balm but there has never been a really strong market for just those.

A Fresh Start

Here we go, just uploaded the new website and attached a link to the blog.  I thought rather than bore folks to tears I would put links and articles on here so that if someone was looking for something they could find it here.  So since I will have a little more time hopefully I will be able to provide some great information.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Healing salve for burns

How to Make an Herbal Raw Honey Ointment: For the Treatment of Burns and Wounds JUNE 24, 2012 BY ANDREA 28 COMMENTS [H]erbal raw honey ointment…nothing is as powerful to encourage skin healing like raw honey! Combined with medicinal herbs and bursting with antibacterial and antiseptic properties, this ointment is a must-have in everyone’s first aid kit. Just wait until you try it! One use is all you need in order to see its’ amazing effects…you won’t want to be without it. And a little goes a long way. Benefits of the Ingredients The beauty of making our own medicinal salves at home is the ability we possess to control the ingredients. I will share with you my recipe, but as always…feel free to let your creativity and wisdom regarding medicinal herbs guide you. This honey-based ointment’s powerhouse ingredients include… Olive oil. Full of vitamins A, D, E and K, olive oil nourishes the skin for fast healing. Comfrey. Encourages the reproduction of cells therefore working to support the mending of sprains, bruises, swellings, burns and sores. Marshmallow root. A wonderful anti-inflammatory herb that will also soften and soothe the skin. Likewise, it’s great for burn and wound healing as it contains large amounts of zinc and vitamin A. Wormwood. Reduces the effects of soreness and pain. Witch hazel bark. It’s anti-inflammatory and astringent properties are excellent for treatment of blisters, burns, cuts and wounds. Raw, all-natural honey. Raw honey provides the base of this ointment and is a well-known antibacterial agent. Honey is also highly nourishing, often reducing the risk for infection and scarring. …and we use it for the treatment of: -1st or 2nd degree skin burns -Rashes -Sunburns -Minor wounds -Chapped skin and lips The Recipe Ingredients -1/4 ounce of each dried comfrey, marshmallow root, wormwood, and witch hazel bark* -1 1/4 cup olive oil -4 ounces raw honey* -1-2 ounces beeswax* *All measurements are by weight and use of a simple kitchen scale. Method 1. Weigh the dried herbs using a kitchen scale. 2. Prepare the oil infusion. You can do this one of three ways: Cold Infusion.In a glass mason jar, cover the weighed herbs with 1 ¼ cup of oil. Stir to combine, and allow oil and herb mixture to steep for 4-6 weeks. Hot Oil Extract. In a glass mason jar, cover the herbs with 1 ¼ cup of oil. Stir to combine. Place the glass jar in a pot on the stove, or in a crock pot, filled with a few inches of water on lowest setting (Be sure to put a towel on the bottom of the pot.). Infuse the oil and herbs for 4-8 hours, a day, or up to 3 days. Note: Watch the pot and add water as it evaporates. Alternatively. According to Rosemary Gladstar, you may also do it this way; “Place the herbs and the oil in a double boiler and bring to a low simmer. Slowly heat for 30 to 60 minutes, checking frequently to be sure the oil is not overheating.” 3. Strain the oil and herb infusion through a cheesecloth. Squeezing to extract as much oil as possible. Be sure you collect at least 1 cup of herb infused oil. 4. In a saucepan, over very low heat, melt 1-2 ounces (depending on how thick you’d like your salve) of beeswax. I suggest starting with the lesser amount of wax and adding more if needed. Note: To check if the mixture is the right consistency, because the salve hardens as it cools, Rosemary Gladstar again suggests placing a “tablespoon of the mixture in the freezer for just a minute or two. If it’s soft, add more beeswax; if too hard, add more oil.” 5. Allow salve to cool on the counter. As it hardens, begin to stir with an electric stick blender until creamy and smooth. 6. Continue to stir with stick blender until salve is cooled to approximately 90-100 degrees fahrenheit. Then add raw honey. Blend well. 7. Pour ointment into storage containers – click here to purchase new tins or jars…otherwise a good ole mason jar works just fine! Will keep for a year when stored in a cool, dark place. To use: Apply directly to a clean burn, blister, or wound and bandage as you normally would. Note: I purchased the dried herbs for this ointment from Mountain Rose Herbs and/or the Bulk Herb Store. Find beeswax here. Raw honey can be found online through the Bulk Herb Store or use this website to search for it locally. Not up for another DIY? You may also be interested to purchase a tin of this Raw Honey Burn and Wound Ointment – lovingly made by me — from my little Etsy shop! Do you use raw honey for wound healing? Tell us about it! And as always…if you really enjoyed this post I would be so honored if you’d click this link and subscribe to the blog! To those of you who have been committed readers, thank you.

What happens to the bees in the winter?

What happens to bees in winter? The survival of the bee through the cold months of winter is largely dependent upon the particular kind of over 1,000 species to which it belongs. Generally speaking, the social bees do not summer in the South during the winter, as do migratory birds, but, instead, live or die in their natural environs. The young queen bumblebee, who earns her title by being the one egg-laying female, or queen mother, in the colony of social bees, does survive the winter. She does so by burrowing out a hold in a well-drained sandbank, or simply by taking the easy way out by moving into a pre-owned home, such as a deserted mouse nest. Once settled into her nest, she plays happy homemaker and makes beebread from the nectar and the pollen she collected all summer, dumps the load of bread, lays eggs on it, covers it with wax, and relaxes atop it. Approximately 250,000 eggs later, her Highness washes her hands of the whole thing, and leaves the work to her offspring. As soon as the workers, or fertilized, but non-egg producing females sprout wings, they set to work, and only later get assistance in the form of drones, or unfertilized males. The workers bees and drones, who toiled for the queen all summer, are rewarded for their efforts by a certain death in winter. No bother...they are easily replaced by cheap labor, when the queen lays more eggs in the spring, and puts her new brood to work. Her counterpart, the young queen honeybee, earns her title by being the first of the special queen cells to emerge, and literally kills her competition, her sisters, in their queen cells, before they have the chance to emerge. The colony she rules is the epitome of efficiency, as it adapts to endure a full range of adverse climates. This species of honey-producing bee, ergo the honeybee, winters in a temperature-controlled hive. The worker bee thermostatically controls his hive with great precision, ensuring that the temperature in the hive's nursery, where baby bees are developing, is maintained at 93 degrees Fahrenheit, and that the temperature in the remainder of the hive does not drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The worker bees accomplish this winter task by fueling up on the honey that they have stored, and by releasing heat as they feast. The honeybee wisely keeps a stash of honey for herself, after the beekeeper has had his take, thus benefiting from his labor in the warmer months. The social bees utilize these months in a productive manner, by buzzing from flower to flower, sucking up the flowers' nectar as they bumble along. The nectar the bees extract from the flower flows to their honey sacs, which are enlargements of their digestive tracts, and are located in front of the belly of the bees. Here, the sugars from the sweet nectar of the flower, chemically transform, and are reduced through the honeybee's built-in mechanism to evaporate large quantities of water contained in the nectar. The honeybee stores the end product, honey, both internally, and externally. Pooh-like "honeypot" cells store the thinner version of honey, honey with a short "shelf-life," and honeycombs, the more concentrated version, honey with the "shelf-life" of canned goods in wartime. In a sense, the honeybee is preparing to combat, and to survive, the bitter winter months that lie ahead.