Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Daily Green - Urban Beekeepers

A while ago I sent off some pictures and a little biog to "The Daily Green" who are doing an article on Urban Beekeeping.  Well, whaddyaknow, I got an e-mail from the editor today and a link to their site.  Tons of cool beekeeper pictures - the coolest being No.17 of course!  There are some really interesting hives and locations.  I got ideas for next year now, but first I need to build. 

Anyway, by the looks of it several people from Saint Louis managed to send in pictures. I managed to put in a good word for the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association and there is a link to their site and also to my blog - so maybe I'll get some more interest!  Anyway here is the link....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hold On - Megan Fox has competition...

OK , so we had a debate last night about how I could increase the number of hits to my blog.  One answer (that I'm trying now) was to announce that I had called my Queen or my "Honey", Megan Fox.  Not only might this broaden the appeal of beekeeping to the general public, younger people may also start to take an interest. 

Somehow, I don't think that adding "Megan Fox is my new Honey" to the title of this post is really about reaching out to a different demographic - it's more an unashamedly blatent attempt to tap into the search habits of young men. But hey, the results will certainly be interesting.

Thanks everyone, you added about 100 hits.  I hope there are now one or two more budding beekeepers in the community.  Anyway I discovered that Megan has some new competition....Queen Els...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

There's a buzz all over the world!

I wonder how many 'surprise' beekeepers there are out there?  After sending out my slideshow to all and sundry it turns out that an old school friend (and she won't thank me for that description - Happy Birthday Liz) has bees too - in Dublin.  I didn't think to ask if hers were Irish-Italian bees (bound to be a volitile combination), Irish-German (I can't imagine really), or perhaps Irish-Russian (I bet they drink a lot).  Anyway Liz and Peter kindly sent some pictures for me to post.

Send me any more pictures from around the world. Go Bees!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sugar Roll / Sugar Shake Test

I completed my first sugar roll test this evening, and made some bees very, very, cross in the process. Basically this is a simple test to see what scale of varroa mite investation you might have in a hive.

Simply collect (ha!) about 200 to 300 bees in a jar and cover with a mesh top. It's best to get bees that have been on the brood. Add about 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar to the bees through the mesh and roll the bees around in the sugar for a couple of minutes to coat them.  This is the bit that makes the bees cross - just in case that wasn't obvious.  Anyway, the idea is that after a while any mites will have lost their footing on the sugary bees and will fall off. 

You then have to shake the sugar (and mites) off the bees and onto a white piece of paper and count how many mites were on the bees. If there are about 10 (I think this is the number) you may need to think about treating them.  My magic number was 3, so I think I'm OK.  Susan's was about the same, so she is probably OK too. All this is good news as it means we don't have to think about any chemical treatment, at least for now.  I really don't want to start treating with chemicals as I think that is part of the reason bees are in the mess they are currently in.

Oh yes, once you have counted the frosted bees (perhaps a new breakfast cereal will be spawned!) you shake them back in the hive.  On the plus side for the bees, although they may be a bitdazed, they at least don't have mites now and they have had a sugar bath - not a bad exchange really.

Before all the excitement I managed to take a peek in the top hive box.  Lots of lovely larvae, and I saw the queen. There seems to be plenty in the way of stores too.  I will check over the coming weeks to make sure they have sufficient food for the winter. I too a quick look in the hive beetle trap as well.  Some have been caught, but not as many as I would have wished.  Still, I'll keep it in for another week or so and see where this gets me.

All in all a very good week for the girls!

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 "Kirkwood Bee Spit" has been bottled!

Wow! - I got a bit more than I was thinking. I managed to fill:

  • twelve 12oz jars
  • twelve 8oz jars,
  • three 8oz honey bears, and
  • I had a bit left to fill a honey jar given to us by Ann, from over the road.

That makes about 270 (US) fluid ounces of honey. Right, now onto one of my favourite hobby horses, units...
  • For all you in the UK that is just over 281 UK fluid ounces, which, of course is about 14 pints (UK pints not US). Oh, by the way, if you want a proper pint of beer here (in terms of volume at least) you're better off asking for a 24oz glass which will give you nearly 1.5 pints (UK)...but that's another matter altogether.
  • Much better still, in metric units (and you all know you should be using this system, even if you don't admit it), it is just a tad under 8 litres or pure unfiltered "Kirkwood Bee Spit"!
I hope you will be able to enjoy some!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My First Honey Harvest!

Well the weather was gorgeous this weekend and so I got some honey!!! In fact I got about 17 pounds in all!!! Brilliant! I’m letting the honey stand for a couple of days before putting it in jars, so that any air bubbles in it are removed.

I have to offer up a big thank you to Eugene, who also harvested at our house today. He supplied the equipment and, of course, the know-how. In no small way he made sure I got the honey I wanted! The slideshow opposite shows some of what we got up to…

I’m amazed at just how fantastic my girls are and have been, and what they have managed to do since I moved them into their hive only 5 months ago! They really have been as busy as, well bees really! To think that on 18 April 2009 I literally dumped about 10,000 workers (along with a few drones) and a Queen into a single hive box with just 9 frames of foundation and a division board feeder, and here I am a few short months later with a thriving hive of 50,000 bees and what seems like a ton of honey!

All I did was feed them for about 5 weeks and then just sit back and let them do what they do best. In just over 4 weeks I had new bees hatching, in about 8 weeks they had filled two hive boxes with brood and honey and I was able to add 2 supers to the hive. They slowed a little over the summer as most of the significant nectar flow stopped in June but they still managed to put a little something away for me.

Just to shed a little perspective on the whole enterprise, I read that a bee, in its short life, will forage for about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey; that it takes visits to about 2 million flowers to make 1 lb of honey, and the hive (as a whole) must travel in excess of 55,000 miles just to make one pound of honey. The numbers really stack up when you consider a hive can produce 100lbs of honey in a season. Now that’s impressive!

So, what is my honey like? Well it’s quite dark in colour and has quite a floral taste with just a hint of lemons. Well that’s what I think. With any luck some of you will provide me with your own descriptions! I really believe it really does taste superior to any other honey I have tasted – even stuff I have had from other beekeepers. It just goes to show you what blinkered self interest can do to your taste buds!

Bee Lucky

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Trap's in!

Well the trap is installed, along with about a litre of vegetable oil - things could get messy when I next go to see what (if anything) has been caught! I guess if this doesn't work the next step may be to go to IPM and get some nematodes to feed off the pupating larvae! Lets's see how things go over the next couple of weeks!
Just seen in that they want some pictures of urban beekeeping - I may have to send in a couple of snaps. And these guys in Brooklyn are an inspriation...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Honey Harvest Postponed!

Sadly, the weather has beaten us - at least for this weekend. There's been too much rain to use Eugene's clever bee excluder and take off the supers. Well, it's not so much that we can't use it, it's the fact that if we do remove the supers too much humidity may get drawn into the hive and this may be detrimental to the honey - a shame really, but we will put the harvest back a week, that's all.
Instead, if I can, I think I will install a hive beetle trap tomorrow - if there is a suitable beak in the clouds that is. I noticed a number of beetles last weekend and the sooner these are removed the better. I don't fancy using pesticides on the ground around the hive, which given the wet weather would probably be a pointless application anyway, so I will attempt to just distrupt their life cycle, and intercept the larvae before they get the chance to go to ground and pupate.