Bee Update

I haven’t posted much on the bees this summer, but I’m glad to report that all is well.
I started the spring with one very strong hive.  This was one of the original hives I started with three years ago.  I decided in early spring to split the hive which means I took several frames of bees, some brood (bee babies at various ages), pollen, and honey and placed them in a separate hive body.  The bees then made their own queen and, presto, I had another hive.
Since the original hive was so large, I decided to do another split following the same technique.  I moved this hive to my dads garden where they continue to enjoy their new surroundings.
Then the swarm calls started coming in

and before I knew it, I had 8 hives.
Later in the summer, a friend asked if I would be interested in buying her dad’s three hives and equipment and, since I’m a bee junkie, I said yes.  The clincher, though, was this…
a 12 frame ELECTRIC honey extractor.  No more cranking!! happy dance happy dance
So, on a hot Saturday night in July, we took our sixteen-foot trailer and made the hour drive for a very unique date night.
Moving bees on date night
Most people go to the movies on date night

I sold one of the hives and put one hive at my dads and the other at my house.
Now I have more hives than I know what to do with.
The honey harvest was good, though, and we harvested over 200 pounds  We had white clover blooming for a long period of time and the honey was very sweet. The honey we pulled off later was quite a bit darker with a stronger flavor.
Spring harvest on the left, late summer harvest on the right

My granddaughter has been talking about helping me, so we got her a bee suit
but when she heard and saw how many bees were in the hive, she decided to stand by the fence.  We will try again later if she wants.  I will say that she is the cutest, toothless, beekeeper I’ve ever seen.
Now that fall is here, preparations are happening to make sure the hive is ready for winter.
First and foremost, I need to make sure they have enough to eat.  Believe it or not, bees do not work tirelessly just so I can take their honey.  In the winter, the bees cluster together to keep warm and eat on the honey they worked so hard to make.  For a strong colony, they will need about 60 pounds of honey stored in the hive.  That’s one deep hive body with ten frames full on honey on both sides.
This is one side of one frame almost full of capped honey.  Each frame weighs approx. 5-6 pounds when full of honey.

When I harvest honey, I am always mindful of how much I pull off and I never take it all.  It could be the difference of living and dying for the bees.
Next, I keep an eye out for pests.  Bees have to worry about bugs, too.  Varroa mites and small hive beetles can weaken a hive quickly.  All summer I have been monitoring and fighting small hive beetles.  I have been using unscented Swiffer pads to catch them as opposed to using a chemical treatment.  The bees will roughen up the pad and then chase beetles to the pad where they get stuck.
It’s been working pretty good and I try to change out the pad every couple of weeks.
I’ve also been using disposable beetle traps.
Small hive beetle trap
Hive beetle trap

These traps are filled with oil or diatomaceous earth and placed in between frames.  The bees chase them to the traps where they fall in and die. Recently, I’ve been studying how to use essential oils to combat both varroa mites and beetles so I will let you know how that is going soon.
Next, I change the entrance reducer to the small opening.
In the summer, the large opening allows a large number of bees to move in and out, and provides air and ventilation throughout the hive.  In the winter, the smaller opening helps keep the bees warm.  This time of year, the boys (drones) are kicked out of the hive.  The queen also slows down on laying eggs so there is not much traffic going through the hive.
Soon, the bees will be tucked in for winter and I will have time to clean and organize my little section of the barn.  In the meantime, it looks like Peaches has taken over my watch.
I am linking this blog post to Our Simple Homestead blog hop.

0 thoughts on “Bee Update”

  1. This is fantastic! Are you planning on selling your honey “Blonde Gardener Honey” at local markets? I also had a vision of you starring in one of those Swiffer commercials — the one in which a box appears at your doorstep. Instead of swiffing the floor, you suit up and head out to the hives. I would write them a letter if I were you . . . 🙂

    • What a good idea!! Wouldn’t that be a great commercial?? 🙂 🙂
      As far as selling honey, all I do is announce on Facebook I have honey and this summer I sold out in 4 hours. Beats the heck out of setting up for a farmers market.

  2. You are addicted aren’t you! I was following all those captured swarms on facebook, and it seemed for a while you were getting one after another after another. Glad it all paid off in plenty of golden honey 🙂

  3. Is it too hot in SW AR to move yours down here? And HOW did you learn all these many facts you need to know to keep them alive? I know they die easily, because we’ve had 4 different hives in trees and stumps all die off in one year after appearing… 🙁

    • Yes, bees have a very hard time. They need enough time to build up enough honey to last them all winter so they may have died due to starvation.
      I am one of those people that read and read and then read some more on bees. We also have a small bee club that meets once a month and they are a wealth of information. Most of the older bee keepers never had to deal with what we deal with today (as far as pests go) and many are getting out. It’s sad, so I’m trying everything I can and that’s still no guarantee. I added a buckeye to my pocket just in case. Lol

      • There was a great bee guy around here, but he passed away. 🙁 I still want to visit…but…
        So, we should feed wild bees that are in hollow trees? I could do that. Just put out some clean honey?

        • No, that would attract bees but also other critters you probably don’t want around. I just look at it as survival of the fittest. If they swarmed late in the season it could mean they were overrun with mites or beetles or other diseases and would be too weak to make it no matter what you did. Sounds harsh but bees are way smarter than me and know what’s best for them.
          Your sweet for asking though!

  4. I have never seen that light colored honey in my local markets. I’ll bet it tastes great. The honey I buy looks more like your other jar of honey. I had to chuckle at your “date night” trip to buy the extractor. Your lifestyle of bees, chickens, etc. really appeals to me.

    • The lighter clover honey is really sweet and the darker has a richer flavor and is my favorite. Yes, date night was quite adventurous and I’m thankful he was still talking to me the next day! I told him I just wanted to keep the spark alive. lol

  5. Great news about your hives doing so well. Sadly, that’s not been the case for others I know with hives. Good news, too, about extractor. I’ve been buying honey every September from a man in Michigan. I really should take photos of his equipment. Then again, that would mean asking him what it all was and, to be honest, he’s not much of a talker. I think he says no more than 10 words to us — and we buy between 4 and 5 gallons of honey each fall. 🙂

    • Wow that’s a lot of honey! I hope they make it through the winter. We are having a very warm fall (it’s 85 today) with nothing in bloom. That means they will eat all their winter food if I don’t feed. I’m buying 100 lbs of sugar about every week.
      I understand about your honey guy. The guy I bought my original hives from was like that. I’m just the opposite, I would talk your ear off!

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