August 2016 Bee Check

It’s been a busy, exhausting summer for us. Thus not too much desire or time to write on my part. But I will fancy you with an update on our bees, whom we haven’t checked in on in a few weeks.

Both hives are doing surprisingly well. Hive No. 3 is very strong with lots of eggs, larvae, and capped brood. Their honey stores are looking good. There are two boxes above the queen excluder that are filling up with honey, but nothing is capped enough for us to extract so we’re leaving them be.

Hive No. 1 is bouncing back slowly from it’s fight with the mites. It’s a dark vacant feeling hive, but there are enough bees and honey for them to rally in late summer. And there are brood and eggs so there’s still a queen in there. This is the hive that tried to kill us. In a way it’s sad to see them so tame and “knocked down” so to speak. We won’t take any honey from them this year.

July 2016 Bee Check

A quick update on our bees, as we checked them earlier this week.

Hive No. 3 is looking good. They filled up their first mid sized super so we added another mid size box just above it, and put a queen excluder in between. We don’t usually use queen excluders but this we are trying them out. The excluder keeps the queen out so that the bees can only put honey in the top box. The bottom three boxes can have eggs and or honey. Overall this is a strong looking hive, free of mites.

Hive No. 1 is not looking good at all. We saw mites the last time we checked, then ordered some “Hops Guard” to treat them with. That product was on back order so we had to wait a few weeks, then I noticed I actually had some in my studio…so we could have treated them.

Well anyway, we treated them this week but it looks like the mites took a toll on our super strong aggressive hive. Our smoker isn’t really working right anymore so I was apprehensive to check Hive No. 1 but as it turned out, about it’s population was knocked about in half, and they weren’t much in the mood for fighting.

We think we saw eggs, and there is some brood. After treatment that should get rid of the mites and hopefully the hive will rally for late summer.

Regardless, after these two hives die out, we’re going to take a year or two off from beekeeping. We’ve got a lot going on, and other things we need and want to focus on. Beekeeping is an incredible hobby and we’ll pick it up again after a short break. I’m not getting rid of any of our equipment. It’s just something for when we have more time and less stress.

For Fourth of July I’m looking forward to finally getting a day off after working for a few weeks straight. I’m going to work in the yard from dawn to dusk hopefully and whip it all back into shape – spread a few bags of mulch beneath the fruit trees, weed whack the nature trails, clean out the front bed…also going to look at cleaning out the roof washers for the rain water collection system, and possibly even stain the sand box finally after two years.

The cicadas are about done in northeast Ohio. Most of the trees are now sporting dead tips on their branches where the cicadas laid eggs. Many of our smaller trees that we bought and planted over the last four years got hammered. It’s hard to imagine our remaining two black gum trees surviving, but only time will tell. Same for our poor allegheny serviceberries. The apples and even the peach trees weren’t spared either.

If I thought it wouldn’t upset the kids so much I think I’d be ready to move. It was a fun experiment that I probably wasn’t cut out for lol.

Here are this week’s photos:

Clover

I was finally going to cut the grass yesterday, Friday. I’m lucky to find one day every week or two to even think about cutting the grass. I had planned to work in the yard all day Saturday. Getting the lawn cut on Friday would help free up more yard work time the following day.

Before I got out there my wife mentioned that the honey bees could be seen from the front window. I had mentioned offhandedly earlier in the week that I haven’t seen the bees foraging as much as I thought I should. I walked over to the window and looked out at the overgrown front yard. Sure enough, looking hard enough, I could see a honey bee enjoying hopping from clover to clover. Then I saw another honey bee, and another. Quickly I realized the front yard was filled with bees.

Very cool.

I went outside and laid down in the clover to get a closer look; careful not to lay on any bees.

There were a ton of bees. The clover blooms danced as if there was a breeze, but instead it was just the weight of honey bees visiting flowers, making them dance. I went back inside and got my camera to take some photos. It was amazing to just lay there and watch the bees go from flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen. It’s really something you would normally overlook in the course of a busy day.

Well I decided not to mow the lawn last night, instead leaving the bees to their happiness.

I did get out there today, after I wrapped up my regular day job work. It’s in the 80’s but felt hotter than that. Ran through both rechargeable batteries in the lawn mower, mowing the back yard and orchard. And I ran the gas trimmer along the nature trails until it decided not to work anymore. Hopefully just some old gas and not a repair. There are a ton of cicadas. And they’re wreaking havoc on our young trees, cutting branches to lay their eggs in. I’ll be happy when they are gone. I cut my yard work “day” short around 2:30pm – too hot.

So I’ll write and paint this afternoon.

The bees can enjoy the clover to their heart’s content.

Here are today’s photos:

 

 

Spring Honey

I extracted honey this week. It was a mix of dark and really light honey, which when combined made medium hued honey, not surprisingly. We pulled seven frames from Hive No. 1. Presumably some of the honey is left over from winter and some is new, on the same frames. This batch yielded twenty-four 8oz. bottles and six and one half 4oz. bottles.

The bees are doing fine, we’ve checked them twice since I last wrote. We spotted Hive No. 3’s queen the last time we checked. And we’ve seen eggs in both hives. Hive No. 1, the aggressive hive, is still fairly aggressive but we’ve been fortunate and cautious. I only got stung once the last time we checked.

The yard has been an abundance of clover and other wildflowers. Regular work, art shows and running kids around has meant that yard work has taken a back seat. Our yard looks is quickly reverting back to the wild.

We do have several peaches on each peach tree. So far the deer have stayed away from them. The apple trees aren’t faring as well. Inexplicably the only apple tree that blossomed this spring had four apples on it. I just checked them and the two branches with apples on them both broke, 12′ up in the air so not sure if it was the wind or a really zealous deer. Regardless we will not be having any apples this year. I don’t know what’s going on with the apple trees. Suffice to say I lack time and knowledge to be successful at growing much of anything in our yard.

The cicada’s are wrapping up their once in seventeen year visit. I actually relish the sound, the never ending chorus or symphony…or drone depending on your perspective I suppose. The weather has been warm as well this June. Overall it’s been a pretty good, enjoyable, memorable spring I suppose.

Here are today’s photos from honey extraction.

Restlessness

I’m a restless man.

RV

This found it’s way to our house.

We’re watching it for a friend. So if it’s here, and we can’t afford one of these, because we have to pay for one of these, then we’re going to use it to go to places like here.

May Day

Snuck outside to take some photos on May 1st. Our land has a plethora of “wild” flowering trees including crabapples and dogwoods. Seeds blown in from suburbia found fertile soil and have grown into a beautiful blanket of spring flowering trees. This year isn’t the most spectacular bloom, but it’s still an impressive site no less. Having all of this wild beauty makes me feel like I’ve snuck one over on the world; cheated someone out of something. Who in their right mind would willfully have sold us such a beautiful spot, and not kept it for themselves.

Their loss, my gain.

New Hive No. 3 for 2016

Last week on Monday we got the email informing us that our package of honey bees had arrived. The thing with a honey bee package is, you basically have to drop everything and go pick them up, and drop them into their hive. So despite a busy life, work, sick kid schedule, we went out and picked up our new fuzzy friends that afternoon.

We had two friends stop out to watch us dump our new bees in to hive No. 3. It was fun to share the experience with newbies (new-bees?). Everyone suited up in protective gear and we had an uneventful dumping of the bees.

The type of bees we got this year is Italian; which is the type that we’ve always gotten. That being said, we wonder if our hive No. 1 bees are a different kind. They, the hive number one bees, are very dark and very aggressive…and very productive and prolific. The new Italian hive number three bees are very light and docile. We swear they must be two different types of bees. Carniolan is the other type of bee available from our supplier but those are supposed to be docile too, just like the Italian ones. Who knows. Regardless we learn the temperament of our bees and act accordingly.

We checked yesterday and confirmed that hive No. 3’s queen did get out of her cell and the bees had started making comb. Both hives are getting sugar water, though hive No. 1 doesn’t really need it. We’ll stop supplying that hive this week. All the crab apples in our yard are in full bloom as well as ground flowers and tree pollen. There is plenty of food for our bees as we go into May.

Here are photos from “bee day” 2016.