Sunday, November 06, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
A warm October day is ideal for a fall inspection. This image shows our new colony of Minnesota Hygienic bees. They are usually quite aggressive and today was no exception. They were crawling all over themselves on this frame, but we didn't see the queen.
They had a number of empty frames, so we ended up replacing them with five frames mostly filled with honey that we held back from our harvest. Their winter stores should be in good shape otherwise. We did see some brood and pollen, but not a lot.
The survivor colony was far more mellow today, not too bothered by our inspection. They had good stores with the top box almost 100% filled and capped with honey. Below had some honey along with the brood and pollen. We didn't need to add anything to that hive. Let's hope they survive another winter.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
We completed our honey harvest over the Labor-Day holiday weekend again this year. The weather cooperated and we received a moderate harvest from the two hives, one of which was a brand-new colony this year. The first video shows the decapping process where the wax caps are removed, exposing the raw honey for harvest.
The next video shows the raw honey coming from the centrifugal extractor and dropping into the straining bag that removes any leftover wax or bee parts. We use a rather large screen so that all the pollen passes through to the honey. Everything is done at room temperature. This year our total harvest was 81 pounds.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
This frame is from super #2 on the new colony. That box is about 30-40% capped. Hope they can complete their work before Labor day when we come in and steal it all.
The 2-year-old colony has 2 full supers - all capped. We put an empty frame on a few weeks ago to give them more room, but they haven't got around to even pulling the comb yet. Looks like 2 will be their limit this year.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Let the nectar flow! We have honey from the new colony. Over the past two weeks they have filled this super and have it about 40% capped.
We added another super to give them room for August nectar. Looks like it could be another bounty year for honey.
There are now five honey supers on our two colonies. If the nectar flow continues in August, we could end up with more than 200 lbs of honey this year!
Monday, July 04, 2011
The "old habits" are now fully broken and the bees are content with the bottom entrances again. Based on our inspection this morning, it looks like we will have about 50 to 60 lbs of spring honey this year! We could harvest it now and it would be that wonderful light amber that won the Blue Ribbon at the Boulder County fair a few years ago, but we will wait and harvest it together with the late summer honey around Labor day.
There are now two supers of capped honey on our 2010 colony and they are going strong. We added a third super to the hive today to give them more room for the late summer honey.
The new 2011 colony seems to have a strong brood chamber, but hasn't made much progress in storing the honey up top. They will do good to fill one super this year.
Sunday, May 01, 2011
"Don't worry about the bees loosing their entrance, they'll figure it out." That's what I said last week when the bees were still clustering at the top of the hive where we blocked their top-entrance for the summer. Well, they figured it out all right. They pried the duct-tape up and went underneath it this week - a break-in.
So this weekend we added the first honey-super for them and installed the queen excluder. I also re-taped the top-entrance cover more securely. Later they are still clustering near the place of the original top entrance while the bottom entrance is wide-open! How long before these bees break their old habits?
The picture below was captured from our web-cam today as we were installing the honey-super. The "bee-cam" provides a fresh high-resolution image every 15 minutes and can be seen directly at this link anytime:
Sunday, April 24, 2011
We covered the top entrance to the beehives yesterday. After the problems for the last two years with spotty honey stores and pollen inside the honey supers we decided that this top entrance would be limited to the winter season only. It was fairly cool yesterday and not many bees were out, so when we covered it, not too many were confused.
Today they all left from the bottom entrance (no reducer), but when they return they still seem to be lost and can't find their way back in. Notice the big pile near the black duct tape covering the upper entrance on the hive on the left. This hive is our survivor colony from last year. (They have never known anything but a top entrance.)
The new colony is in the hive on the right. They were installed one week ago and have an entrance reducer. The top entrance was open for the first week, but they seem to have adjusted quickly.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
A warm end to January was an opportunity to open up the hive and do a brief inspection. We found a large colony was in good shape and still had plenty of honey stores in the upper box.
The lower box was quite light and mostly empty. We've saved a few full frames of honey from last fall that we are ready to give back to them if they seem to be running low, but they weren't ready for it just yet.
Just after this inspection the weather turned very cold and we had quite a cold spell with temps dropping to -20 overnight. Today the we were back in the 60s and they were once again out flying. We'll check again in late February or early March and see if they need the extra honey.