Monday, September 4, 2017

2017 Harvest Notes

An updated post is, again, long overdue. We celebrated our 10-year anniversary at the end of July and took some time out of town to celebrate. It also means that by the time we returned, we started looking towards the end of the season for this year's beekeeping.

Here are the official results from this year's hives:

Let's just go ahead right away and say how awesome the second (from left) hive was -amazing queen, ideal temperament. It was as tall as Mr. Bee! We are definitely going to try to winter this colony. We are also considering whether or not to try to winter the fourth hive, which Little Miss Bee has titled as her own.

Not too shabby for production, but these bees are on the aggressive side, though, so we have that to consider.

The first hive was a struggle from the start. We tried to requeen it, which worked, but was not effective. This hive never took off and never seemed to be concerned about it. They had no honey stores by the end of the season, which was a disappointment and means that there is no chance of their survival over winter.

The third hive seemed to have a good start along with the others at the beginning of the season, but something seems to have stalled its progress. It seems late, and honey stores are definitely lacking. We are not planning to winter this hive, so we hope to be able to use the comb from it for next year.

The kids are increasingly comfortable with helping with beekeeping and often ask thoughtful questions. It isn't hard to get them to enjoy the fruits of our labor, either!

It is always neat to see the ways they keep themselves busy outside. We had a fun visitor who really helped keep their attention. Meet Mr. Jumps. (He was named by the kids.)

We discovered this one-eyed frog under our hive cover. He was slimy and amazing.

The kids walked around with him and then let him go in the grass after we said goodbye. A while later, at our inspection two days ago, there he was under the hive cover again! The kids made him a safer place to live:

Some of you saw the story of Mr. Jumps on my Instagram. You are welcome to find me there if you are interested in seeing more beekeeping photos.

After some work outside in the beautiful Minnesota weather, we took things inside yesterday to extract the honey we pulled off of the hives.

We try to learn as much as we can from harvesting our honey, just as much as we try to learn during inspections. We came up with some ideas for next year, like that we will space our frames a little bit further apart to help ensure that the comb is drawn out past the borders of the frame.

We will also likely do some adjusting with the depths of our supers in relation to where the queen works and lays eggs.

It was really neat that my mom brought the kids out since we really like when others can experience beekeeping with us, especially our children. My mom even helped decap some frames!

We ended up with a slightly smaller harvest than last year, but last year, we did not winter any hives. This year, we are looking at trying to winter two, which means we are sacrificing maybe three gallons of honey.

If we do the math, we are ahead of last year. Regardless of the math, we are thankful for a harvest.

Take a look at this little boy trying not to stick his finger in the honey:

I think we all sort of felt that way about tasting the honey, and I think I feel that way about waiting for next year's beekeeping. It would be nice to just go ahead and start up with what we have learned, but we do make an effort to appreciate the changing seasons, in Minnesota and in life.

The close of this season means the start of another, and we use the time to work on other projects we have going as well as to research and prepare for next year's beekeeping.

I look forward to sharing the color of this honey with you in the next post as well as to talk more later about how we will winter the hives this year.