Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Look at the beautiful colors of honey collected over the summer of 2009!
- The lightest is from July 4. It had a taste of jasmine. Our neighbors have a wonderful jasmine trained over a chain link fence that was in bloom before we took the honey.
- The honey on the bottom right was from mid-August. It had a hint of fennel. Our neighborhood has several areas where wild fennel is growing.
- The honey on the top left was extracted in mid-September. It was not a viscous as the other honey we extracted and had a slight rose flavor.
- The darkest honey probably has some Japanese knot weed in it. I do not know of any patches of Japanese knot weed close around us but maybe the bees traveled to get this tasty full bodied treat. It was extracted later in September. The honey in urban areas is seldom from a single source. The major nectar sources in the Pacific Northwest are maple trees early in May to June and blackberry bushes in June to July. These are readily available in the city along with all of the cultivated plants in peoples yards.
Our neighbors had great crops of cherries, grapes and raspberries this last summer. It was a good summer for growing things but I think our bees helped make the harvest bigger with their pollination services.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
My bees are hunkering down for the winter. I lifted one side of each hive a few inches to make sure that each hive is good and heavy. Two of the hives seemed a bit lighter than the others so they are being fed sugar water (2:1) with a bit of honey mixed in. I put this syrup in mason jars on a front feeder at the hive entrance.
The bees stop reproducing this time of year meaning that the varroa mites also stop reproducing since their reproduction happens inside the sealed brood cells of devoloping bees. This is an opportunity to knock down the mites since all of the mites are now passengers on adult bees. I am using grease patties of wintergreen oil (1 tbsp) mixed with Crisco (2 cups), white sugar (3 cups), honey (1 cup) and mineral salts ground fine (3 tbsp). I mixed this together and put an ice cream scoop full on top of the top frames in the brood box. The wintergreen oil is supposed to take care of the tracheal mites and the grease from the Crisco is supposed to make more of the varroa mites fall off. The mineral salts are supposed to be something that bees need as much as other animals. (I got the mineral salts at De Young's Feed in Woodinville where it is sold by the pound as a cattle supplement). I am looking for scientific research on the effectiveness of this treatment but so far, I haven't found any.
The last honey that I took from the bees this fall was ivy honey. This was gathered when the supers were taken off the hives on October 10. As the frames were extracted, there was an odd odor to the honey that I could not place. Later, while out walking, I went by a patch of ivy full of bees and smelling like the honey I had just extracted. aha! Ivy! The honey crystallized very quickly and is like glue or paste in the jars. I am feeding the honey back to the bees with 2:1 sugar water. Also, I am using the honey in bread (honey whole wheat).