Bees

Bees are sweet.  Look at some of the honey our bees made for us this year.

Sometimes though, the bees are NOT sweet.  We have a hive of bees that is MEAN!  Look what one of them did to Clark.

He was just taking a box off the hive and he got stung on the ankle.  This picture  was taken a few days later.

In the spring we are planning to re-queen this hive.  We’ll do this by smashing the old queen and putting a new one in the hive.   After three weeks all the mean bees will be dead.

We like nice bees!

Checking the hive

I usually smoke the bees before I check a hive.  This does three things, first it masks the alarm smell alerting other bees of an intruder (me), second it makes them start eating honey because since the hive is on fire (they think) they will have to leave, and who wants to leave all that yummy honey?  Not the bees.  Thirdly, once the bees are full of honey, the can’t bend their abdomens to sting me as easily.Smoke them

After smoking the bees I open up the hive and start looking at frames.  The bees glue things together so sometimes it is quite a challenge to pull up a frame.

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On the frames I am looking for evidence that the queen is still alive and laying.  The eggs look like tiny little grains of rice at the bottom of a cell.  I also look for larva its other stages of development.

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Then it’s just a matter of gently (I don’t want to squish anybody)  sliding the frame back into the hive and closing things up.

We still need to winterize the hives.  I’ll report more on that later.

Wild honey comb

This is a picture of what wild honey comb looks like.  In a managed hive the beekeeper provides frames for the bees to build their comb on.  This honey comb came from the hive Clark took out from between the floor in an old house.  I think it looks so pretty.  –  If you ignore the dead bees 🙂

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I am checking to see if the bees have left their wild comb to join with the hive below them, but it looks like the queen is still alive and the bees are staying with her instead of integrating themselves into the other hive.  It’s too bad, that was their only chance at survival.

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Sting Proof

When I work with the bees, I feel no fear.  What’s there to fear when I am sting proof?

This little bee is doing his best to sting me, in fact leaving her stinger behind, stuck in my glove.

Bite through the glove

I know this bee suit is not going to be seen on fashion models any time soon, but I love it.

I feel safe and sting proof.

I have yet to encountered a bee that could penetrate this suit.  (Here’s to hoping I never do!)

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Frozen Bees & Honey

The second hive we got called on was in the floor joists of someone’s home.  This hive was just like the other one, only in between the floors, vertically.

Basically impossible to salvage the hive intact.

Not to mention the fact that the home owners didn’t bother to call us until September.

A hive of bees needs 60 – 100 pounds of honey to survive the winter – these bees were working hard to get that, but even if we could get the bees out and put them in a new hive, they would never be able to survive the winter on the little they would be able to gather before fall.

Clark combined what bees he could get out with another hive and scraped out the hive from between the floors.  The majority of bees died.  Sad, but unavoidable.  We got their honey.  :).

This is a pot full of honey (and a few bees).

Pot o Honey

The problem is that for some crazy reason, bees don’t like to fly off and just leave their honey.

So how does one get the honey without the bees?

Freeze them.

We stick the pot in the freezer till the bees die, then we can either crush the comb and drain out the honey, or heat the pot, melt the wax (it floats when it cools- and so do the bees) and then strain the honey.

We haven’t done anything yet, we still  have this pot of honey just waiting to be harvested.

Time.

It’s all about time.

(or the lack thereof)

Pot 3