Sunday, August 23, 2009

August has flown by.

I can't believe the end of August is approaching! Summers tend to fly by as it is - it's the busiest time of year. The long daylight hours support work, volunteering, gardening, wine making, beekeeping, hiking, travel, birthdays, and everything in between. I'm always surprised by how quickly the weekends book up, and by how soon the summer seems to draw to a close. Driving through Highway 9 today I realized how many of the trees have leaves changing color.

I spent the last week on the other coast - Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Newport, Rhode Island. On the Newport Cliff walk I saw plenty of bees working the plentiful flowers. Hello Atlantic bees!

I took two bottles of homemade wine (Blackberry and Elderberry) with me for my friend, along with two bottles of honey. With the current restrictions on flying with liquids, I had to check all of these. The wine bottles were in a wooden wine shipper box in my checked luggage. The honey jars were stuffed into my hiking shoes to help protect them on the trip. When I opened the bag to check on how the glass all did, I realized the jars of honey had flipped around in my shoe - not possible! I found a "your bag has been inspected" tag when I unpacked. I wonder what the TSA folks thought finding the honey and wine! Happily, everything made it safe and sound, the wine was enjoyed and the honey was declared delicious.

On Saturday, August 15 we did the second honey harvest of Urania hive. The plan was to take off the 30Jul09 super and set to the side, remove the 30Jun09 and 12Jul09 supers for harvesting, and add a new 15Aug09 super. We opened up the hive, moved off the newest super, and saw that it is already progressing quickly to being full. When removing the two harvest supers, we realized the burr comb had gone from troublesome to problematic - the girls had built comb up from the brood super into the honey super, and the queen was laying there. With a heavy heart, we stripped the brood cells and burr comb, and added the queen excluder. The burr comb was placed into one of the wine buckets to allow any brood to emerge, and allow the bees to remove any pollen or wax that they wanted. The bees were less than pleased with the interruption of their hive, but they chose to bump rather than sting.

The extraction went quickly- practice does help! We took a break between the two supers, and as M sat on the bench (no jacket, gloves, or veil), he accidentally sat his hand right on top of a bee that was walking on his jeans. He got stung, but we got his hand under ice water and with baking soda fairly quickly.

I took a try at using the uncapping knife, and now I appreciate how easy M makes it look! Using both hands and having him hold the frame, I was still struggling. High angel, slippery materials, and general awkwardness - I was all to happy to hand the job back over!

The frames, once spun, were stored in an empty super for the bees to clean. This time I set a small table out with feet in old LUSH tubs with a bit of motor oil in them. On the table I inverted a large milk crate to provide space, and the super got set on this. This kept ants out of the honey super and allowed the bees to clean things up with no competition. It also made storing our clean supers and frames much easier!

We didn't get any photos of the harvest. We were under a bit of a time crunch since we hadn't expected to do the harvest so soon, and I had a plane to catch. Finding the brood put a bit of a surprise into our day. Even if it's for the good of the hive - it's never easy to sacrifice brood.

We did get another five gallons, at least. We bottled about 40 pint jars (we ran out of jars!) and have another gallon or so more in the bucket that will be used to make mead shortly. We've also collected another three freezer bags full of wax for melting.

In a couple of weeks we'll check the hive again to see how the girls are doing with the excluder. We need to rule out any chance that the queen got trapped upstairs. The next guild meeting is focusing on Fall / Winter preparation. Our guess is we'll have one more harvest before fall really sets in.

This morning we took some time to check on Terpsichore and add a second honey super to the hive. The hive is going strong, and they are definitely storing honey up. They are funny bees! Active and healthy, but much more responsive and on guard than Urania. At the same time, they have a lot more to defend / worry about. Hail Terpsi!

Oh! My friends that visited recently to meet the bees sent me some photos of the visit.

beekeeper me! ;)

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your honey harvest. The mead making sounds very interesting as do the fruit wines.