Monday, August 27, 2012

Bee Log #80

Those bees! What I thought was going to be almost pure buckwheat honey is really mostly blackberry and clover honey with the lightest hint of buckwheat. You can see from the last post that we should be getting buckwheat honey in the next two weeks. The buckwheat is there and the bees are there so the buckwheat honey can't be too far behind.

Blackberry, clover, buckwheat honey

The honey is pretty- a light amber as you can see from the photo.

We have shared a market stall at the Shoreline Farmers' Market on Saturdays during August with Luke Van Vuren of Van Vuren Farm. The buckwheat is planted at the Van Vuren Farm for our bees. It will be plowed under before it forms seeds to increase soil fertility.

Luke Van Vuren of Van Vuren Farm

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bee Log #79

Bees on Buckwheat Flowers

We have a new apiary (bee yard) on a farm near Carnation, Washington. The farmer was talking about maybe using buckwheat as a green manure (he plows it under before the seeds form). Now buckwheat honey is a very tasty treat and people have been asking for it. We were so interested in the chance to produce buckwheat honey that we bought the farmer 50 pounds of buckwheat seed to plant.

Yesterday, we were at the farm harvesting. We got about 70 pounds of lovely buckwheat honey. It will not be available for the Phinney Farmers' Market on Friday, August 24, because I still need to bottle it. The honey is sitting in large buckets on the kitchen table waiting for the jars that I bought this morning to get washed. Maybe we will have some at the Shoreline market on Saturday. Harvest time, busy time.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bee Log #78

Freshly washed jar lids air drying on my kitchen table.

Work is sometimes a pleasure. Preparing to bottle an ample honey harvest is truly pleasurable work. It is the reward for all of the spring labors on the bee hives.

We had another honey harvest on Monday, August 5. We only visited 2 locations with a total of 4 hives but we harvested about 70 pounds of honey. Two of these hives are located between apartment houses on lower Queen Anne Hill near Seattle Pacific University (98119) and two are located in a private back yard near downtown Bothell(98011). Both locations have been exceptionally productive. The Bothell location makes sense but the apiary shadowed by apartment houses on lower Queen Anne breaks all rules of locating bee hives. It is well protected by a fence and a locked gate but it is shaded all day long and the bees have a near vertical take off and landing pattern.

One of the Bothell hives produced lots of honey despite being queenless. We have remedied that situation with a Buckfast Queen. We are trying some survivor bred queens in hopes of getting a better bee hive, a better honey harvest and better winter survival. We had to have this queen right away because when we harvested the Bothell honey, the bees came out of the hive and sat all over the hive about 4 deep alarming the homeowner. She was purchased from Corky Luster of Ballard Bees for $40. This is a high price to pay for a queen but she comes with impressive credentials and we were in immediate need. Queenless hives do not behave in a normal or predictable fashion.

Friday, we are expecting 3 queens in the mail from Oregon bred by Old Sol for gentleness and heartiness ($28 each). The Post Office was not thrilled to hear that we were expecting a shipment of bees but they are cooperating. The last queen we mail-ordered rode around in the mail carrier's van all day. The Post Office is supposed to call when the bees arrive so we can pick them up. She arrived alive at out mailbox and is doing a good job repopulating a queenless hive.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bee Log #77

I have been in Hot Springs, Arkansas for the last 10 days due to a death in the family. The heat was intense. One day the official temperature in Little Rock was 111 degrees which was the third highest temperature ever recorded there. My 90 year old mother and I had to carefully plan (and ration) our outings because of the danger of the heat and the sun. I got chiggers. I did see honeybees. The honeybees must be suffering from the lack of nectar in the heat and drought. Actually, this will probably be a hard time for beekeepers over much of the southern two-thirds of the USA because of extreme drought conditions.

Here in wonderfully cool Seattle, we just had another harvest of honey. The new honey is primarily blackberry and linden (a non-native tree planted as a street tree in Seattle). Linden honey, a favorite of mine, has a wonderful citrus flavor. We plan to be at the Phinney Farmers' Market on Friday, August 3 at 3-7pm and at the Van Vuren Farm booth at the Shoreline Farmers' Market on Saturday, August 4 from 10 to 3. Our next scheduled visit to the Queen Anne Farmers' Market will be Thursday, August 16 from 3-7pm. Come taste our newest honey.