Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I think that’s it!

On Saturday I extracted what is likely to be the last honey from my hives.  The final super came from my city hive and it gave me another 8kg (18 lbs)!  So the overall total for the honey I harvested this year stacks up as…

Blue Queen Hive - 61 kg (135 lbs)
White Queen Hive - 31 kg (68 lbs)
Botanical Gardens - 14 kg (30 lbs)
City Bees - 30 kg (66 lbs)

Overall that’s 136 kg (300 lbs) of honey.  Brilliant!

The hive at the botanical gardens seems to have an active laying queen.  We had some doubt as I did not see any eggs or larvae at the weekend.  However I checked today and I spied some larvae in a nice dense pattern.  Perhaps the queen was not actively laying during the period that I was treating for mites.  There has been observation that this might be the case when using Mite Away Quick Strips.  I’m not 100% happy with the behavior of this hive – it gets quite defensive. But that may be down to the fact the hive was being sprayed by an irrigation hose today!  Irrespective, I think I will leave her alone for now. Perhaps if she gets through the winter I will think about requeening in the spring. 

Monday, September 5, 2011


Phew, that's a relief!.

It was such a lovely day today that the lure of an inspection just couldn't be resisted! The very good news is that there is brood (larvae) in my "Blue" Hive; the one that lost it's queen.  It was queenless for a while (probably since sometime in the middle or early July) and I only managed to introduce a new queen on 25 August, about 10 days ago.  I had hoped that some queen cells would develop, but that didn't happen. Anyway, three days after introducing her I checked to see if things were going well. Yes, she had been released, but I saw no sign of her.  But, rather than look for her I decided the best course of action would be to leave things alone and check again in a few more days.  I have been here before and the last time I went looking for her I clearly disturbed things and the queen did not take!

So in I went today and saw some nice larvae, probably about 5 days old, nicely packed into a frame.  I am quite relieved! The hive is nice and heavy with stores and the bees in the hive seem much more settled.  They are working and walking over the frames in a much more settled way.  While they were queenless they really didn't look like they had much "purpose".  I know this is a bit of a cliche, but they definitely were not right!

My other "at home" hive (the "White" Hive") seems busy and full of bees too.  I saw densly packed brood in a couple of frames in the top (of three) boxes and I removed the Mite Away Quick Strip residue.  They also have a lot of stores to carry them through winter. I suspect this hive will need to be watched for swarming in early spring! So place your orders now for a split!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Creamed Honey and Mead

I carried out an exercise in creamed (set) honey making yesterday.  This is the stuff that doesn't run all over the place when you put it on your bread/muffins etc.  It's actually dead easy to make, although I probably should be careful what I say as it will be another 5 days before I find if the receipe I used works!

All you do is heat the liquid honey to about 60C (140F) in order to remove any sugar crystals. Then you let it cool to about 35C (95F) before adding some seed honey i.e. a small proportion (1:9) of already set honey, leave it to stand for about 12 hours, pour it into jars and then keep at about 14C (57F) for five to seven days. I bottled my honey this morning and so will have wait until next weekend before I see if it will be OK.  How to I manage to control the temperature at 14C?  Well I found an unwanted wine fridge on Craigs List!

I also decanted my month-old mead into another demi-john (carboy to us US folks) this morning.  I got a mouth full while I was syphoning the stuff into a clean container. It's a bit rough, but it certainly has promise!