Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bee Log 62: July 26, 2011

Honey bee working a leek that has gone to flower

A full frame of honey that is almost ready. Note the whiter area along the top of the frame. That honey has a thin wax cap across the top indicating that the bees have decided that it has been sufficiently dehydrated. We take frames of honey from the bees when they are at least 80% capped. Go bees go!

A family, visiting from California, is watching my husband work a hive in our back yard. We love to educate people about bees when we get a chance.

I got stung on the leg two days ago. My body over-reacts to bee venom. So far treatment has consisted of ice, Benadryl, hydro-cortisone cream, and ibuprofen. I looked up some folk remedies and tried a few but I think I was too late for them to have any effect. Ice seems to give the most relief.

This has been a most frustrating summer for beekeepers and presumably for the bees. We have had cool overcast day after cool overcast day. I look at the weather across the nation and see the temperatures in many parts of the country hovering around a humid 95 to 100 degrees and am thankful I don't have to brave that but on the other hand, it does make beekeeping difficult when the bees can't get out to the flowers that I know are blooming. Our bees are finally able to bring in nectar in excess of their needs. We are seeing a lot of uncapped honey that we hope will be ready sometime this week of next week. The bees put a thin coat of wax over the cells of honey when they are dehydrated enough so the honey doesn't ferment.

We hope to be at the Phinney Farmers' Market on the first Friday in August.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bee Log 61: July 4, 2011

These seven hives are at the Urban Horticulture Center on the University of Washington campus. The hive on the far right is the swarm hive that was featured in the previous blog. It is coming right along. The hive on the far left is the hive that swarmed. We know this because it ended up without a viable queen. The old queen flies off with the swarm. The remaining hive is left with queen cells (pupa cases) about to hatch another queen. That new queen must go around and kill the other queens about to hatch. If she misses one, then there is often a secondary swarm with an unmated queen. We did have a second swarm at that site so it could be that the hive ended up without a queen. Our last inspection of the far left hive showed that there were no eggs, no larva and no brood (pupa cases). That means no active queen.

Our options were to purchase a queen for $25 to $30, let nature take its course and possibly loose a strong hive with a lot of bees or combine that hive with another hive. We chose this last option combining the hive with a swarm that we caught at one of our host homes. We know that swarm had a queen because of the behavior of the bees as we captured the swarm.

To combine hives, we use the newspaper method. A sheet of newspaper is placed on top of the hive without a queen or with a queen we want to depose. Slits are made in the paper and the hive addition is placed on top. The bees set to work chewing up the paper giving them enough time to adjust to the new queen. If there are two queen, they fight for their throne with (we hope) the strongest, healthiest queen winning.

In the last 3 days, we have answered 4 swarm calls. We love getting these swarms as thay helps make up for all the hives we lost last winter. One swarm was a puny little thing and we combined it with a larger swarm.

We are starting to add honey supers to out hives. Any hive that you see in the above picture with 4 boxes has a honey super. We are hoping to have honey to sell by July 22. That is our target date for starting with the Phinney Farmers' Market. Finally the weather is looking like summer with days in the mid 70's and blackberry blossoms galore.