Honey Bee Update

Inspecting hive No. 3 in August 2015.

Inspecting hive No. 3 in August 2015.

As promised, though a little late, the third of my posts updating you on what’s been going on. You may, or may not, remember that in June we were attacked by hive No. 1. Since then a lot has happened so let me get you back up to speed.

After hive No. 1 attacked, resulting in 17 stings for me and over 25 stings for my wife we let the hive cool off for a day. Only for me to go out to deposit some compost in the compost pile and get stung on top of my head. The subsequent day I was stung on my ankle and on my lower eyelid, both while cutting the grass.

Enough was enough. We called a couple of bee keeping friends to come out and look at the hive. The plan was to find the queen and step on her. Then we could re-queen the hive with some new, less angry, genetics.

All three ladies, two friends and my wife, went out to the hive to find the queen. The big tough guy in the group, me, waited by the compost pile in my bee suit. I had a smoker too, just in case things got crazy. I liked to think I was the support guy who could run screaming for help in case things went awry.

They took the hive apart, swarmed by 60,000 angry bees.

I stood thirty yards away being repeatedly attacked by two very angry bees.

Turns out they found the queen, were going to capture her in lieu of squashing, but then lost her again when someone went to retrieve a queen “cage” from a car. So they installed queen excluders between the three major sections of the hive; the plan being that next time we checked the hive we could quickly figure out which hive section she was in, then we could squish her.

The feedback from our friends was that our hive was aggressive, but not quite as angry as the hives they had been splitting earlier in the day, elsewhere.

The ladies inspect hive No. 1

The ladies inspect hive No. 1

We did check the bees again in a week or two. The queen excluder trick worked, we figured out which box she was in. I’m not sure if we saw her, but the bees didn’t attack us that much. That coupled with the fact that they produced a huge quantity of honey earned her a pardon.

The hive was just too strong, and performed too well to kill her off.

We would just have to endure their eagerness to kill us.

‘Cause honey.

You know.

Hive No. 3 had been doing well meanwhile. Then at some point they lost a queen and we thought they didn’t re-queen themselves. So we actually bought a new queen since the hive was devoid of capped brood (baby bees in cells waiting to hatch). Turns out we might have had a virgin queen because the last two times we inspected the hive, we saw a queen that was not the one we bought. (The one we bought was marked).

Here, you can see the "Virgin Queen" of hive No. 3.

Here, you can see the “Virgin Queen” of hive No. 3.

Harvest wise we extracted honey from hive No. 3 in early July, and from hive No. 1 in late July. All the honey is considered Spring 2015 Wildflower, and label as such by hive number. Honey never spoils, so we will keep a jar or two from each harvest. Generally speaking we label all of our honey with the proper vintage information. Theoretically down the road you could collect a variety of vintages and compare the taste. Our plan is to start a journal and record our harvests. I’d also like to start charting the bloom schedule for each year.

I don’t have the information for hive No. 3 in front of me right now, but it was an average harvest. I think I extracted six (6) frames, and got about twenty-five (25) 8oz. jars of honey.

Angry hive No. 1’s production was off the charts, or at least our new beekeeping charts. On July 25th, 2015 I extracted 15 frames full of honey. Resulting in 50 lbs. of honey (nearly 4+ gallons). We filled fifty-four (54) 8oz jars, twenty-two (22) 4oz gift jars, and three (3) 16oz bulk mason jars. Retail for the honey we got from hives No. 1 & 3 is around $600+. Not a bad take for our bees, some of whom tried to murder us.

Honey flow after extracting hive No. 1 honey.

Honey flow after extracting hive No. 1 honey.

The summer 2015 haul of honey from hive No. 1. 15 frames. 54 8oz bottles, 22 4oz bottles, 3 mason jars. 50 lbs. of honey total.

The summer 2015 haul of honey from hive No. 1.
15 frames. 54 8oz bottles, 22 4oz bottles, 3 mason jars. 50 lbs. of honey total.

We’re keeping an eye on the supers. Hive No. 1 could potentially fill another in late summer and still have enough for their winter. So we could be extracting more in September. We’ll have a better idea next time we check. Hive No. 3, with their queen drama, probably is done for the year in terms of providing honey for us.

Right now golden rod is in full bloom, so there’s plenty of pollen to be had. The summer has been extremely dry though; not sure how that will affect things. Clover is pretty much done as are daisies. Cone flowers and black-eyed susans are still in bloom.

So there you have it. Your honey bee update for mid-August.

Basement drywall should start this week so stay tuned for updates on that as our basement is transformed. Should be exciting to see.

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5 thoughts on “Honey Bee Update

    • There’s only one queen in any hive. We call her a virgin queen because there the one time we checked the hive there was no capped brood, and no eggs, and we didn’t see a queen. We thought she was dead. (Thus why we bought a new queen). But then the next time there were eggs when we checked, so she was just a virgin when had checked the previous time.

      Though technically there were two queens in our hive at that one time because we had bought one – but the hive stuck with their original queen and likely killed off the one we spent $30 on. Such is life.

      Like

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