bees

First Spring Honey Extraction

Last fall I did my first honey extraction ever as a demonstration at Bartram's Garden for Philadelphia's 2nd annual honey fest.  This year I decided to pick up my own extractor and get some of the spring honey from the bees.  The mild winter around here did good things for many insects, and bees are no exception.  Normally it is rare to get honey in your first year from a new package or split, but I was able to extract 36 frames of honey from 3 of my 4 hives, and there are at least 20 more frames that are full

Pulling Supers

I went to pull the honey supers from the hives today for extraction this weekend.  It was the first time I used a fume board, last year I just shook the bees off of the 10 frames I extracted.  I used Bee Quick, which is a nice smelling alternative to Bee Go.  I don't know if Bee Go works better or not, but I would say it doesn't really matter.  I just put this stuff ont he fume board, let it sit on the super for a couple minutes and I could pull it off virtually bee free.  Much easier than last year and it made the bees less ornery. 

Mid-Spring report for Second Year of Beekeeping

This year has been a little light on blog posts but that is mostly because things have been going so well.  Two days ago I addressed the only issue I have really had to face so far this year and that was with Boatmurdered.  Queen Freyja appears to have left with a swarm that I unfortunatly did not witness or catch.  The hive failed to make a new queen or she was eaten on a mating flight, so after giving them 2 frames of open brood and eggs to prevent a laying worker situation I decided to order a new queen.  Queens have been scarce locally, so

Bee Day #2

Today was the official start to my second year of beekeeping!  Sure I had prep work and other things that I did before today, but today is the day I actually pick up the packages and make a split.  Today the bees move into their new or previously deserted boxes and build upon the structures left by their predecesors.  I am also starting a new hive today at a new location.  A co-worker has expressed interest in having bees on her property and I am certainly happy to install a hive there, especially since it is within about a mile of the community garden where the other hives are.  This new h

Beginning the Second Year of Beekeeping

I went out to the community garden yesterday to get things set up for two new packages I am getting next Saturday. The hive that survived winter is doing great and I am going to make a split from it since its bubbling over with bees. I cleaned out the hive that didn't make it and see they starved to death. It was very sad, the queen and maybe a dozen bees were stuck to a frame near the top, most of them with their heads in the cells. They had honey around them and fondant on top, and there were bees that died while chewing their way out of their cells.

Final Tasks for Winter

Its getting to be about that time of year where there isn't much else I can do for the hives but button them up and hope for the best!  That isn't entirely true, of course, but it is too cold to feed sugar syrup any more.  One hive ended up absconding in late September, my strongest one all year is now worrying me a great deal, and the hive that started off the year by killing its first queen before she was even out of the queen cage is doing the best by far! I guess those bees know what they were doing when they put out the assassination order.

Bee Studies - Pollen and Hive Health?

Earlier today I spent some time with Charlie Nicholson going through what was my strongest hive and the only one to produce any harvestable honey for me this year.  I say was because the hive seems to be dropping off every week in health.  There are fewer and fewer bees and they are taking very little of the heavy, 2:1 sugar syrup I am feedign them to try and get them to build up more stores for winter.  Maybe I shouldn't have harvested any honey from them, but at the time I was not only excited to harvest but the hive seemed to be doing just fine and have plenty of time to build up for win

Down One Hive

It appears the year of crazy queens has reached its finally.  The middle hive that was having problems was doing so-so after I requeened it back in July.  The queen had a good laying pattern and was doing what she could, but despite her laying efforts the workers drew out very little, if any, new comb.  I have been feeding them a light, 1:1 mix of sugar syrup all year to try and get them to draw out comb but they never got past a handful of frames.  Rather than stay in what I assume was a horrid living situation for them they decided to abscond from the hive.  Its the end of September and t

Extracting at Philadelphia's 2nd Honey Fest

I did my first extraction yesterday at Philadelphia's 2nd annual honey fest for a crowd of honey enthusiasts attending the festivities at Bartram's Garden in West Philadelphia.  There was a great turn out and lots of kids stealing tastes of honey while I was removing the cappings. 

Trying to Save a Hive

The hive I swapped to the middle a couple months back is not doing well.  I learned they were queenless several weeks back and despite giving them frames with brood and eggs from the other two hives they have failed to make a queen on their own.  I am installing a queen for them today that I picked up at my last bee class this morning.  I am worried for this hive, not just because they have been queenless but because they have only drawn out about 4 frames of wax on their own.  I am going to need to feed them like crazy if they have any hope to survive the winter at this point in the season

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