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.

Advertisements

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:

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.

2015 Christmas Tree Planted

Just a quick post today to share some photos.

We say hello to the 2015 Nine Apple Trees Christmas tree, which is now planted out on the pond berm. It’s been a warm December. Who would’ve imagined I’d be planting a tree, and about a dozen ferns between Christmas and New Years.

2015-xmas-tree-planted

We say goodbye to an old friend. I sold the Rabbit a couple weeks ago. I don’t even want to think about how sad it makes me to see him go. We had so many awesome memories when we were building the house. And he was no stranger to the blog. But we needed a larger vehicle with four doors for our family so reluctantly we bid adieu.

07-VW-Rabbit-for-Sale

And lastly, wash your beeswax. LOL I was lazy and just threw all the wax from the last extraction into the pot and melted it down. The honey residue, which normally would be washed out, liquified and made it through the strainer. It then congealed underneath the beeswax during cooling. Gross.

when-you-dont-clean-your-beeswax

Don’t let this happen to you. Wash your beeswax before melting it.

Christmas Tree Day 2015

It’s Saturday early evening, I’m sitting down with a beer and listening to Christmas music. For the next half hour or so I will have the equivalent of a day to myself, to relax and write.

In the spirit of the season, we went out and bought our Christmas tree today. It’s a live Norway spruce tree, or at least that’s what we think it is. They weren’t labeled at the tree farm. As is our tradition, we get the tree a few weeks before the holiday, then bring it inside a few days before Christmas and decorate it. After the holiday we plant the live tree in a pre-dug hole somewhere out in the yard. This year the tree will go out on the pond dike. Previous year’s trees can be seen just off the driveway. Once a tree graduates from home to yard, the following year it gets a string of colorful solar lights. The idea being that, let’s say we’re here twenty years. Visitors would be able to see twenty trees in the yard with colored lights on them. Fun.

Back inside the house, I’ve been slowly continuing work on the basement. I’ve started tiling my office area, and I have also essentially finished the full bathroom.  Tiling is going slow, but I think I’m doing an okay job. I got a new tile cutter at Lowe’s and I’m very happy with its performance. I haven’t really ruined any tiles yet. I think it’s got a good sharp wheel and easier action, and that makes a difference. I do need a grinder though to angle cut some tiles around a doorway. But there’s no reason to spend $80 on a tool I probably won’t ever use again. I’m going to see if I can make a Dremel tool work or, worst case, rent a grinder.

In the bathroom, all of the accessories are hung. It took me a while to figure out where the blocking was for the towel bar. In the process of discovery I drilled about a half dozen holes in the drywall, all of which I had to patch up and repaint before mounting the bar.

While figuring out where to hang up the toilet paper roll holder, I discovered that you’re supposed to mount it about 8″ in front of the toilet bowl, off to the side. Well I don’t have a wall in that location. I could have mounted the holder on the adjacent cabinet, but the wife and I both voted against that. So, behind and to the side of toilet the holder went. I think it’s fine. I don’t see how just putting the roll in a basket or a freestanding holder does anything. It’s fine back there.

As time allows I’ll continue to tile. I want to make sure I get all the tile down as soon as possible, in case they discontinue the tile style. I don’t want to be left short of tile. Then I’ll really be in trouble.

Earlier today I extracted honey from hive No. 3. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, this hive died late this autumn. We got nine frames of honey. I haven’t weighed it yet.

Next year we’re just going to manage one hive. If it gets large enough we can split it. Otherwise, we’re not pouring any more money into beekeeping if we can help it.

Actually we’re not going to pour any money into any projects for the foreseeable future. I’ve got the materials to finish the basement, except the ceiling. That should keep me busy DIY-wise for a while.

One interesting side note, I’m finally selling my trusty Rabbit. The wonderful VW that kept me company throughout our new home build, and was mentioned in many a post, well it’s time to say goodbye. We need more space and more doors in a vehicle. If you know anyone who’s looking for a great, clean car for commuting, running errands, or just starting out, let me know. I’ll make you a great deal on our good friend.

Ok, here’s today’s pictures. Time for me to go back to the real world and all of its responsibility. Cheers!

 

 

One is the Loneliest Number

With the weekend upon us, we took advantage of a calm, albeit cool, day outside to button up the hives for winter. We removed the sugar water, and installed the insulating shroud and rigid foam top on the hives.

Hive No. 1 was a little angry with all of the poking and prodding, but we got them put back together quickly.

Unfortunately as I was preparing hive No. 3 for the insulation, I didn’t notice any bees moving about. I put my ear to the hive and didn’t hear anything. Taking a chance with the cold weather, we cracked open the hive to confirm our suspicions. Hive No. 3 was empty. The hive died out basically.

We knew the hive was in trouble a few weeks ago, but with a queen and some brood, and lots of honey left, we figured they’d survive. Well they didn’t.

We pulled all the equipment off of hive No. 3 and cleaned it up. I’m going to extract the mid-sized super, 10 frames. We cleaned off all of the deep frames from the lower two boxes. One box was basically empty and the other had a decent amount of honey. Because we had treated for mite, and no telling how old, or what shape the honey was in the one deep box, we just dumped all the honey and wax scrapings into the meadow. We’ll probably have a bear problem next.

Hive No. 1 is still strong and will hopefully make it through the winter. If it gets big enough we can even try and split it next summer. We will not be buying new bees next year. We need a break from buying bees, and beekeeping in general.

One thought we had going forward was to embrace the fact that our bees will likely die out every year and start working on harvesting pollen and propolis. That sounds like a lot of work though. But at least we’d be using the whole hive when they die out.

Oh well, we have all winter to not worry about it. The bees we have are happy and there’s nothing left to do except wait for spring to arrive in the meadow.

Last Bee Check for 2015

Yesterday was basically the last time we will have checked in on our two bee hives. Despite our warm Autumn, I’m sure it’ll get cold soon and we won’t want to open the hives anymore.

I think we’ve done a good job combating yellow jackets this year, as opposed to last. Neither hive shows any signs of yellow jackets raiding honey.

Hive No. 3 is not looking too good though. We don’t believe they have a queen anymore and their numbers are way down. I don’t think that hive will survive the winter. I’m not sure there is anything we can do anyway, as there isn’t enough time for them to re-queen themselves, and brooding days are over so no new bees will be emerging to replace the ones that die off. There’s one frame of capped brood but it doesn’t look viable. Bees live about 30 days in summer, and can live inside the hive throughout the winter. But there just aren’t enough of them really. They have enough honey  with one full super, and several deep frames in the middle box. We shall see.

Hive No. 1 is still going strong. We didn’t see the queen, but they still have a frame or two of capped brood that looks to still be viable. And there are still a ton of bees in there.

They had actually close to two boxes of honey up top. The one had several frames with a little bit of uncapped honey. We reduced both hives to two deeps and now medium super, so I took nine frames of uncapped honey out between both hives. Right now the frames are sitting out there, I’m letting the bees and yellow jackets raid them. I’ll go look and bring them back to the garage later today. I didn’t want extract any honey anymore this year. It’s just more work than I want to deal with. I will scrape off the nine frames and store them for next year. There really isn’t much honey on them, and it’s not worth taking full frames from the bees, to simply replace them with these meager frames.

I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to do.

I’ll put the insulation wraps on the two hives, and rearrange the hay bales later this month to protect them from the cold.