Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More Honeycomb


As many of us prepare for the school year and autumn, our honeybees are still quite busy with the same tasks they've been at all summer.  The only difference is that we are seeing more and more honeycomb.


Although pollen and nectar are a bee's main source of food, she and the others will get honey in the comb to get them through winter, when nectar and pollen are not available. Why honey?  It can last forever. Really, forever.  Honeybees get the humidity/moisture levels in the honey to 17-18% and then put a cap on it. We know that honey preserves amazingly at this point.

Above you can see some capped honeycomb.  Below, you can see that this honey is not capped, meaning that the bees know it is not at the correct level of moisture. If harvested before it is capped, honey is certainly above that level and can ferment.  Bees are so smart, aren't they?


You may be thinking, "If honey can last forever, why does it crystallize in that little bear bottle in the back of my cupboard?"  Worry not - it's not spoiled or stale!  Put the whole jar or bottle in a warm pot of water (so it's not in direct heat), sort of like a double boiler.  Patience...and liquid honey once again!

At this point, during inspections, we're looking to see how the bees are coming along with storing honey.  You might remember that we need to leave at least 60 pounds of honey for them to have a chance to make it through winter (though there are many factors on which their survival depends).



The middle hive got another box! You can see that the other hives are coming along much more slowly. We're not confident they will make it through winter - it's just that feeling that they're not quite strong enough. That middle hive, though, is just plain strong.


As we approach autumn, things will start to slow down, but we're not ready for the harvest just yet.  Maybe Minnesota weather has a bit of warmth still in store.

The kids, meanwhile, are as busy as ever.



Have a great week!



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wildflowers

There are many wildflowers in our area - some consider them weeds, and others see them as a vital part of our environment.  Trees and wildflowers are the major sources of pollen and nectar for our bees. Mr. T. has even taken the recommendation of the county to leave his ditches un-mowed in order to allow more of these plants to thrive.  Thanks, Mr. T for helping the bees!

I think wildflowers are so beautiful - and interesting to look at. Here are just a few from the space right in front of our hives:







While Mr. Bee checked the hives, the kids and I chased this awesome camouflaged grasshopper: 


Our girls are still loving the wooden frames, and you can see below that they're drawing out the comb right up to the edges, wide and in an extremely even pattern. Beautiful!


The hives are starting to be filled with capped honey, and this is very exciting for us.


Little Miss Bee tried on her dad's beekeeping veil.


Look how tall that middle hive is getting!  I hope it gets even taller, and we do still have a bit of summer left.


I was excited to enter some of my photos from the last year in our County Fair. My color enlargement did not place...


...but my Color Collection won third place.


It was fun to look back at the last year of beekeeping to choose my photos and it was exciting to think of the photos I might have next year.