Friday, November 28, 2008

November 28th with Thanksgiving past and the winter wrap intalled...Had been supplying 2-1 sugar water for the past month or so and had treated Hive A with mite wafers on two ocassions about a week apart in mid-fall. Noticed hundreds of dead mites on the mite trap surface within a day or two of wafer application and will continue to use the more natural mite control methods, on both hives, as opposed to the wafers, after evaluating in the spring. It will be interesting to see if the mite wafer applications provided a greater benefit in controlling mite populations in the spring, when compared to Hive B who simply had the natural mite trap smeared with Crisco shortening. Certainly a learning experience with lots more considerations "than meets the eye" when first looking at starting with bee keeping. Very enjoyable challenge and outdoor pursuit...Looking ahead at adding 4 more hives this spring, making a modest bee yard of 6 colonies, and enjoying the vision of harvesting lots more honey next season. Diane's garden produced lots of great vegetables this year, we have a freezer full of fresh venison from bow season and our small apple orchard planted to hopefully begin with a small apple harvest maybe as early as next fall. Life is good and we need to stay close to and care for the Earth.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday, Sept. 28th...Continuing with mentor, Pat Ennis's, help. Diane and I really enjoyed our lunch and work session today, with Alissa and Lexi a part of the day as well. Second and final fall medicated bucket of sugar water (2-1) with Fumagillan B (rounded tsp/gal.) provided. I have one more dusting of Terramycin (3 dustings of 2 tablespoons per hive body, 4-5 days apart) scheduled for Tuesday. Then, on Sunday, October 4th, the 3rd of 5 or 6 dustings, depending on the weather, of powdered sugar (one cup of powdered sugar sifted per hive body) for varroa mite control...Productive day of work with Pat as he showed me the aggressive way to load up and fire up a smoker to make sure you've got good smoke to last with hive work on both colonies. I've been too tentative with packing up smoker fuel and then getting it flaming well before adding the final chips and grass for fuel. Both hives have some mites that need interventions but not bad enough to require going beyond natural methods (powdered sugar dustings and mite traps with Crisco) for now. Hive A has good brood patterns in the lower body with capped honey, chucked full, in the upper hive body. Larger population when compared to hive B but they haven't hit the medicated sugar pails quite as hard as the weaker colony due to the rich supply of honey stores they've created in their upper hive body.
Hive B is a little weaker and has not filled up a couple of brood frames on the upper hive body BUT they did go up and pull comb and cap some honey in the honey super provided weeks ago. SO...I've removed the honey supers from both hives, crowding the colonies for maximum brood and honey poduction in the hive bodies to sustain their health over the winter. Also, added entrance reducers with the small opening to prevent mice entering and keeping the colonies warmer as the fall temps begin to drop.

Extra bits: Learned how to balance heavy supers bracing/leaning on the end of the box below and then tilting for inspection. Broke open some hanging drone cells at the bottom of some brood frames to inspect for mites and found none, although we did see a mite on a couple of bees when inspecting hard. No deformed wings spotted so a situation hopefully not too bad and under control. Need to add some Vita B Pollen substitute on the enclosed inner cover, with sticks under the syrup pails, allowing bees to crawl under the pails and up into the bucket area to access the dry pollen substitute...want them to eat lots! Need to check within a few days to see if the empty frames in the top hive body of hive B is getting drawn out with comb and honey supply for winter...If not, Pat indicated that he would provide me with drawn frames to encourage late honey stores for the weaker colony. Good guy and wonderful mentor!

The vision continues with the initial planting, two weeks ago, of our mini-orchard...4 Halared and 4 Golden Honey apple trees at 5-6 feet tall, with mulch, fencing, and water pails installed to give us a head start next spring. Close to the bee hives and trail with a long hose provided to facilitate effective and timely watering. This spring I'll add 8 Honey Crisp trees to the orhard plan and then enjoy (and I'm sure be challenged) as nature does her "thing" over the next few years:) Hoping to have some wonderful stories to tell, honey, apples and firewood to sell (and give away), healthy water and fish population in the pond for kids and grandkids to swim in, catch fish and frogs in and generally enjoy with lots of fun adventures...All the while learning about nature, embracing her God-given gifts and helping to protect her as our modern world continues to cause complex and serious problems all over the Earth. The saga continues and life is so good!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tried to cheat and explore a hive wearing a red t-shirt, no smoke and no protective garb...Bad call:) Only one sting but she got me above the eye brow and I've looked like a punched-out prize fighter for the past 3 days. Those honeybees are good little teachers!

The tree part of the business is coming along as well with 6 loads of hardwood cut, split and stacked for seasoning in prepartion for next spring's farmer's market season.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Had a large swarm of bees airborn above the hives, close to the timberline, late morning on June 12th, making me anxious, thinking that one of the hives was swarming...Things settled down after 15 minutes of observing and talking with a visitor in close proximity to the hives. The numbers now seem to be OK after visual checks over the past two days. Hive A seems to have bees that have moved into the first honey super, after three weeks of no interest. I'll now be anxious to see if comb is being drawn and honey produced over the past week...Hive B is still active and a brief visual check through the inner cover shows good comb with some honey being produced. Will want to smoke both hives and check more thoroughly within the next 48 hours. New experiences and lots of fun with anxious concerns being part of the program. TW

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4, 2008

Checked on both hives yesterday and acitivity seems to have slowed over the past two weeks...some comb drawn on one honey frame in hive B with a some brood noted on it as well. Hive A has no comb drawn in the honey super but some egg laying noted in both hive bodies with capped brood cells and bee activity. I wish I noted a higher percentage of bees with full pollen baskets returning to the hives, but as a rookie, I don't have much experience to compare too...Will continue:

Main questions at this point:
Did I feed them well enough and long enough after installation?
Did I medicate them appropriately?
Should I be checking and finding the queen more often?
Should I have done more with mite control?
How are my hives compared to other newly intalled colonies?
Enough for now...Will simply continue and hopefully learn and get better as mistakes (as well as successes) are realized and addressed:) TW

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The bees arrived 6 weeks ago and have miraculously survived some volatile weather conditions. Have no fear....there is honey to be made!