Thursday, February 9, 2017

Bee News

Nine months into my crash course in bee keeping and deep into my first winter with my ladies, some of what I read and the videos I watched are making sense. I now know that one of my hives should have been re-queened ( lesson learned ). I am also amazed that despite my best efforts one hive is still alive ( here is where I cross fingers and knock on wood). Truth be told the ladies take care of their selves and I find it peaceful to just sit and watch them come and go. Which brings us to my learned lesson. We started the bee's late in the spring last year. Not knowing if there would be enough forage for them in the inner city I fed a lot of syrup to get them started and we installed planters with native flowers that bee's love all around the roof., both hive took to their new homes and were going like mad right from the start. Early on one hive was out pacing the other in terms of number and taking up space. Being a novice I didn't know weather the hive was just outstanding or if it was a normal hive and the other was lacking. I was assured from a more seasoned beekeeper that both were doing fine upon inspection and we carried on. Late in fall I noticed that the smaller hive seemed to have less traffic than earlier in the year but I assumed this was normal as temperatures were changing and winter would be on its way. This is where I probably should have re-queened that hive, I didn't know and it didn't happen. With a warmer than usual winter so far I could see bees flying on warmer days and it gave some solace in that both hives had activity. Two weeks ago with temps in the 70 I stepped out to take a break and greet my ladies, and noticed no activity in the smaller hive. After further inspection I found all my ladies dead. So last week I pulled the hive to inspect and dissect it to see what might have gone wrong. From my best guest after reading books,blogs and good ole you tube is that with low numbers the bee just couldn't keep the hive warm enough when we had our first cold snap and they all froze to death. Bummer! I found them gathered tight with heads in comb buts sticking out literally text book evidence of freezing to death.
Huddle up dead poor girls
We cleaned up the brooding frames and boxes and stored them for the spring I have two nucs coming and if my other hive makes it I will have three hives come spring. On the bright side one hive was still alive as of yesterday and still looks really strong and since my ladies won't need it in the dead hive I will get a little honey this year. I left five frames to start my new nucs and all the brood frames which have some honey and I began processing the rest today. You tube to the rescue again with video showing how to build and use a 2 food grade buckets and a filter cloth to filter and extract the honey.
Bucket with honey gate installed and hole cut in lid for filter bucket

filter bucket with 3/8 holes drilled

hive parts

honey extractor assembled

wax with honey filtering out

liquid gold
We scraped the foundations into a bowl chopped up the wax and honey put it in the filter and let gravity do the rest. Total cost for the whole set up was about 27 dollars with two food grade buckets filter cloth and honey gate. So far there is about 1 1/2 gallons filtered through which is a lot more than I was expecting.

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