Showing posts with label Beekeeping
I anxiously waited for my bees to emerge today. I knew they were alive a few days ago but hadn't checked since. It is a 50 degree day so the girls came out to play. Um.... no, not really. I forgot what they do when they first come out after being stuck inside for a long time so I did a very dumb thing........ I stood under a cloud of bees to take pictures and for a moment I thought it was sprinkling but oh no, those weren't sprinkles, I was actually being pooped on. I was being bombed left and right. Once the reality set in I made a mad dash for the house. Anyone ever try running in water logged clay soil??? Yeah, you know how that turned out. Good thing I had boots, sweatshirt and jeans on. Too bad I had my sleeves pulled up :( but... I am happy the bees made it through winter without any mite treatment last fall.

My one and only hive, slowly making it through winter, is about to face more complications.
I took a peek outside this afternoon to see how much snow melted in the backyard and to my surprise, my bees were out and about. It didn't last too long. Most of them went back inside after about 20 minutes but a few are coming and going now. I'm so happy.
It was suppose to be pollen patty to the rescue but it turned into Michelle being too wimpy to do what was needed. It was about 40 or so degrees today, somewhat of a heat wave for a MN winter, so I decided to open the hive. The U of M course said not to open til the first week of March but I couldn't stand not knowing exactly how many bees had survived so far. So, I put on my boots and headed out with hive tool and pollen patty in hand. 
I was reading on a website where someone stated that "most honey is not raw that in fact honey is heated and refined". Of course, he was implying that honey isn't a natural healthy product once it is heated and refined and so that statement lead to this blog post.
It is that time of year again, when beekeepers in Minnesota decide whether or not to add more bees to their existing apiary. Right now I am trying to decide if I should order 2 or 3 packages. My girls don't appear to be surviving this winter very well.. I will know more in February when hopefully the temps are high

A big thank you to Jared over at JARED'S BEES for letting me share this picture.  

This is the sight I dread. Little bee butts up in the air while they are face down in a cell looking for food. The bees in the above picture are all dead because they starved to death. It doesn't mean they ran out of honey, in fact, these little girls were just inches from food when they died.
I had the luxury today of witnessing some bee suicide or maybe it was bee eviction and a little bit of bee poop. Is that a luxury?? Oh well, for a beekeeper it is. 
Just in case you are wondering, I don't call it a hive anymore, it is the "bee box" and today I learned that banging on it isn't the wisest thing to do. (Yes, I was thinking maybe some very loud humming not organized military attack).
Our little patch of dead bees has come to be known as the graveyard, which is what it feels like I am seeing everytime I visit the hive lately. At present my hive is half covered in snow which I need to deal with. These cold snowy days are serious cause for concern since long winters tend not to be any survival
Last night we ended up with several inches of newly fallen snow and although I could see the white piling up around my hive, it would do no good to get out in the middle of the night to uncover it, so this morning I put on my knee high boots and trudged out to the hive. 
One of my girls left the hive but didn't make it back. I'm assuming it was recent because she isn't covered in snow. My daughter found her in the driveway, quite far from her hive, so I don't think she left her home to die but maybe came out when the sun was shining but got too cold??? Whatever the reason, it is always sad to see them like this but it's natural nonetheless.

Although I took 16 hrs of "Beekeeping in Northern Climates" course back in March I find that I've forgotten most things about honeybees. Like remembering the fact that they don't freeze but instead starve to death in the winter. Why the black cardboard box to warm them up on sunny days then? Well, because, the warmer they are the less honey they consume. Ooooooh, yeah... Oh yeah?? Ok, now I'm lost.
Wow! Is this post going to be out of order. I should be blogging about my bees getting ready for winter but I finally found the charger to my camera so I'm able to talk about the honey extraction I was invited to observe this fall.

After Gary Reuter from the University told me it was definitely time to remove the honey super that I eagerly waited to be filled with honey (but it wasn't), I headed out to the hive. The bees have been doing their own thing for quite a while now and so I wasn't sure what type of attitude I was going to find them in
Today we came home and found our hive had tipped over. At first I thought maybe some kids came through the yard and pushed it over but upon closer inspection found that the "landing strip" as I call it had actually broken apart. I noticed that it was coming apart several weeks ago but then promptly forgot about it. Well, now I've learned a valuable lesson, when said hive is looking shabby I must repair said hive or I'm going to be in deep doo doo.

I feel horrible. There were lots of casualties. Mostly because hubby and I panicked and rushed to put it back together. We should have taken our time and worked carefully but a racing heart and uncertainty did not make for a good combination. We crushed several bees, mainly a heap that was laying on the ground and we just blindly happened to step on. Everything is back in place and the bees went back to business as usual. My only fear... did the queen get killed in that mess?

Any experienced beeks willing to share any tips on how determine whether the queen has perished or not, aside from the queen cells that the bees would make?

UPDATE: (8/23/10) I've learned several things.

1. I'm not the only person to experience the hive tipping drama.
2. The queen is most likely alive since my bees showed know sign of defensiveness when we put the hive back together.
3. I need to check the hive in 5 days to see if there are eggs just to make sure the queen is ok.
4. I should strap my hive down with a heavy leather type strap. Wrap it all away around the hive so in case it tips again all the hive bodies will stay in tact.

Thank you posters and buddies for sharing all this information with me!!
Sorry I haven't blogged lately. I'm busy back at school and honestly, the bees aren't doing much of anything right now. On July 31 I added a honey super to the three hive bodies because the top hive body was filled plum full of honey. Initially I put a queen excluder between the honey super and the top hive body but was advised to remove it since the queen isn't known to cross honey (so no risk that she'd go into the super and lay eggs). I removed the excluder on August 7. About 3 bees actually went through the excluder into the super. I checked a couple days ago and there were about a dozen bees in the super but they haven't drawn out a single frame. So... it looks like I won't be getting any honey this year. I'm not disappointed since I wasn't expecting it. Hopefully the girls make it through the winter and produce lots of honey next year :)
I've decided to name my apiary and so I need help from my readers. I am requesting that you share an apiary name in the comment section of my blog and at the end of august I will let my kids choose their favorite name from the list of comments. Whomever gives the name that is chosen will receive a bar of handmade soap and one 4 ounce aromatherapy candle. I will put up a sign with the chosen name in my apiary.


The only thing keeping me from throwing in the towel on this beekeeping venture is thinking that the death of all these brood really wasn't my fault. My hubby likes to tease me about it but I just didn't see any other way.
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