Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bee Log #1: November 7, 2009

Bee Log #1: This is a blog about bees. I keep bees. And, after 2 years of beekeeping, I still feel like a beginner. Frequently, I don't know what to do about bee issues but I am getting better at figuring things out. I think actually what I am figuring out is that my bees do pretty well knowing what they need.

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).

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