Tuesday, July 30, 2013

CCD update

The Guardian published this neat summary of recent developments in the understanding of CCD.  Worryingly, fungicides are now getting into the mix!  Previously these were not thought to be a significant factor in bee health.


Hive Summary

I thought it was about time I posted a brief summary of what's happened in my hives this year.  So here's a table that provides a little potted information.  I hope by the end of August to be able to fill it out more and update the remainder of the fields.

Multi-Media Profile

I've gone "multi-media"!!

Well actually I now have a separate Facebook page to promote my honey...

"North Clay Honey" Go check it out and tell you friends...


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mite Treatment Continues.

That's it! It's the last week of July and the first round (and I hope only round) of treatment is now underway on all my hives.

The Botanical Garden hives have "Mite Away Quick Strip" on them. The Ladue Hives, as they all had mite counts <30, have no treatment. Diane's hive has MAQS and in my own back yard one hive has no treatment (it had a count of 27) and in the other hive I managed to cage the queen.

So I have lots of things to consider once the treatment period is over.  I plan to do another count, most likely at the end of August. Then I'll decide if I need to do anything more before the winter.

Interestingly, all of the new season hives needed no treatment but the ones that came through the winter were in need of a lot of attention.  Doubtless this means early season treatment is the most efficacious thing to do. So I think I will try to treat all my hives in late March or April next year. I'll have to see whether I think caging the queen or using MAQS is more effective. 

I am due to start pulling the first treatments on August 1st, and the other MAQS on August 4th. I'm going to cage the Carniolan Queen for 10 days. Watch this space for news!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mite Treatment Begins

I missed the first day of cool weather but it looks like we have some settled cool days for a week so; I can but hope I suppose!

Anyway, I just put on some "Mite Away Quick Strips" on the two hives at the Botanical Gardens. I'll remove them in a week or so and then do another mite count just to see how effective the treatment was. Oh, and also to check on how they effected the Queens!

Some other good news; both hives have filled the supers I left on them after the harvest so in a week I'd better bring another couple of empty supers back!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mite Testing

Now the harvest is over it's time to start testing and checking for mites.  I put sticky boards under all 8 hives and in a couple more days I'll pull them and do a 24hr count (i.e. take the 3 day total and divide by 3).

I hope that mites won't be a major issue as most of my hives have had a break in brood rearing either as a result of swarming or queens being superseded. 

However the  actual counts were as follows:

MOBOT existing: >80
MOBOT swarm: 72
Backyard west: 18
Backyard east: >80
Diane's yard: >66
Ladue east (existing): 27
Ladue nuc south: 5
Ladue nuc north: 1

So that's really mixed!  I'm very pleased the two nucs are in great shape although I'm surprised (but happy) that the other existing hive in Ladue is also good. I wonder if this us because they are aggressive and prodigious propolis producers? In any event I reckon there will be no need for treatments here at least for now. I will but test again in a month or so.

As for the other hives, well the mature hives that came through winter have been hardest hit which I guess is no great surprise, so I'll have to treat these. The garden hives both came through the winter and have the heaviest mite loads.

So how to treat?  I really want to cage queens, but I think I have a great set up for trying no treatment (in Ladue), Queen caging (at home and in Diane's yard) and soft chemical treatment (MAQS at the gardens). It will be interesting to see how they all do.

It looks like cooler weather is on the way (26C to 30C as of Wednesday July 24) for about a week - MAQS treatment to start then I reckon!

Beeswax Processing

Tonight I've been processing my wax cappings.  I boiled them up in a vat of water at the weekend and tonight I processed the "raw" wax. 

I started by melting the raw wax and then pouring this through a metal mesh coffee filter. Then I poured the molten wax into a mold.

Tomorrow I'll freeze the block of wax (or is it an ingot?) to make it easier to remove from the mold.

And the finished product? 1 kg of lovely golden wax!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Bees Knees!

The honey harvest went amazingly well, quite possibly because we were well oiled with this cocktail!

The Bees Knees:
2oz gin
1/2oz lemon juice
3/4oz honey syrup (1:1 honey:water)
Shake with ice, strain and serve in a martini glass, if you have one!

Very refreshing!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Honey Harvest - Part 3 - Extraction

It took about 4 days to bring in all the supers from their various locations in St. Louis.  It was hot, hard work, although not as bad as last year; the temperature hit 41C one day!  It was still pretty hot and on one day I lost about 5 lbs I was so dehydrated (yes, I measured it!).  I learnt from last year's experience and I'm very glad I paced myself this time.  I reckon I would have been unable to do all the extracting if I had to bring all the boxes in just the day before.

So, once all 13 supers were in the house the extraction process started.  A huge thank you goes out to everyone who came round on Saturday July 6 to help me extract all my honey (and drink all my booze!).  We gathered in 376 pounds (170 kg) of liquid honey from around the area, but I also have about 5 frames of cut-comb honey as well, so that probably brings the total to around about 400 lbs (180 kg).  I simply must give a special shout-out to Maddie and Eleanor for bottling 74 honey bears and about 20 other assorted bottles!  Wonderful job girls! Thank You!  Anyway the breakdown was like this:

Backyard = 81 lbs (36.7 kg)

Diane's yard = 46 lbs (20.8 kg)

Botanical Gardens = 195 lbs (88.5 kg)

Ladue = 54 lbs (24.5 kg)

Cut-comb = 5 frames, so about 20 to 25 lbs (10 kg approx')

A very tidy haul indeed!  That's about 400 lbs from 5 hives, or an average of about 80 lbs (36 kg) a hive.  Quite impressive! Last year I got about 255 lbs (116 kg) from 3 hives, which is slightly more per hive, but there is still some honey on all the hives. I intend to take that off in September, so long as the girls don't need it. I'm sure there's another 10 to 20 lbs per hive out there! but I mustn't get greedy.

So as I said, the backyard honey is partially bottled, but the rest of the stash is in about 9 buckets in the basement!  I'm going to make some set/creamed honey as soon as I can and perhaps enter that in the Missouri State Fair.  Some "chunk" or cut-comb honey (jars of liquid honey with cut-comb inside) will also be made. But I'll need more jars and bottles, and fairly soon!

It was a wonderful weekend.  I'm now in the process of taking supers back to the hives to let the bees clean up the frames.  My car smells devine!!  However my forearms, hands and fingers ache now from all the repetitive lifting, spinning and grabbing!  I couldn't do this every week!

Some Interesting bee facts:
400 lbs of honey takes about 20,000,000 "bee-miles" to produce.
Each bee can process about 1/4 of a teaspoon of honey in it's life. So something like 100,000 bees were responsible for this year's haul.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Honey Harvest - Part 2 : All Harvested!

Everything I can bring in is now in the house (including a few bees). There are however still a few supers out there in myyards and  I'm hoping they will get filled over the next couple of months. That, or the bees will consume it if the weather turns out to be anything like last August! 

13 supers so far, so with luck that'll be about 300 lbs! Yum!  All supers are coded so I know where they came from; look out for the blind tasting event...

Honey Harvest - Part 1

It's time!  The busiest, and best, time of the year for us beekeepers!

I started harvesting at the Gardens on Wednesday and hauled in 6 supers with the help of some friends. Thanks so much to everyone it made a tough job much, much, easier! 

Once I was done there I managed to bring 2 more supers  from Diane's hive. Tomorrow (July 4th) I'll harvest from the back yard and then I'll finish up in Ladue on Friday! 

It's looking like a good year!

The Extraction Party is Saturday. Super busy, but my favourite day! I hope to see at lot of people!