Sunday, August 14, 2016

Changes, Changes

Well, August is here and we have updates!

Days after my last update, we got a call from Mr. T. He had been walking through the yard and noticed something out of the corner of his eye.  One of our hives swarmed.  This doesn't mean they flew at someone in an angry cloud like we used to see in cartoons.  It means they had made a new queen and half of the hive left with her...and they were temporarily in this tree:

Photo Courtesy Mr. T.
Bees are not aggressive in this state since they don't have a hive to protect anymore, but this was not good news.  There are ways to collect a swarm and re-hive it, and some beekeepers get all their bees this way, but this was a difficult location, a difficult time of day, and an unlikely success.  The bees normally move on quickly to a home in the wild, and they did move on just a hour or so before we were able to get there.

Although we like to look at this in a positive way, that we helped contribute a new hive to the wild, it means our hive is doomed for the winter.  This was a disappointment as we'd hoped to try and winter them.

We suspect our second hive swarmed also, as we found swarm cells, but it is relatively healthy at this point.


With these changes, we knew that we should harvest the honey earlier than usual since there was a risk for the bees to eat the honey in an end-of-season panic or to lose it to a wild bee colony (honey robbing). Since then, we have harvested twice.

We did invest in a new extractor this year, which has been immensely helpful! Here is a peek inside.


...and here it is! In the front (right) is our 2016 honey.  You can see how it compares to our 2015 honey behind it (left).  This year's wildflower honey is still lovely and floral, but lighter in color - more golden.


Mr. Bee entered a jar of this year's honey in the local county fair and won a blue ribbon!  We also entered a small candle.  It was the only candle entry.  I will share about wax and our candles in a later post.  We're new to it and it's been really neat to see that beautiful wax in a new form.

In the next weeks, our plan is to watch the hives to see if they have effective, laying queens.  We will look at the honey stores and amount of bees to see what comes for the end for the end of the season.