To Bee Or Not To Bee (a Bee-odyssey)

Discussion in 'Environment' started by jjl, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. jjl

    jjl dowser/attention whore

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    359
    Trophy Points:
    81
    I shared the expense to rent a Honey extractor from one of my Beek clubs. I must admit, I was disappointed when I beheld the contraption. For one thing, it was bigger than we needed (most of the honey was smeared in the side of the 40-gallon barrel) . And it was a hand crank. (Our Beek club president says: crank until your kid's arms fall off.)

    Even worse is the hot "Uncapping knife" to open the cells of honey for spinning.

    And the clean up...
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  2. jjl

    jjl dowser/attention whore

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    359
    Trophy Points:
    81
    Some time ago, I was leaving town and discovered that my girls had already assembled their winter stores of honey, a month early.
    Because the second deep was full of honey and I was leaving town, I threw a medium super on the mess and swapped a full honeycomb out for an empty one. If the queen can't move around enough she might swarm, indeed, when I did an inspection that day, I found the beginnings of a swarm cell being built.
    I made these changes without thinking because I needed the girls to stay occupied while I was away. I knew the queen would probably lay brood in the top chamber. But I have been told that she would only do this one time and then they would fill the super with honey.
    Also, it was time to stop feeding my Bees.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  3. jjl

    jjl dowser/attention whore

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    359
    Trophy Points:
    81
    The first small batch of brood hatched out only to be replaced with a mass of brood in the top and middle super. Both top boxes were filled with honey and brood and pollen. The bottom box has a little brood and honey stores but is mostly pollen stores of every imaginable color.
    I know, I should take pictures, but I challenge any first-year beek to have the presence of mind to photograph anything when he or she is in the bottom brood box.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. jjl

    jjl dowser/attention whore

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    359
    Trophy Points:
    81
    So all of the conventional Beeks are taking the top honey supers off and harvesting the frames. The general consensus is that only two brood boxes should be used to winter over a colony. This means that my third super needs to come off. I was prepared to do this to make the moving of them an easier task.
    But first, I went to my friend's house to observe both an Apivar treatment.(More on that later) and to pull her honey and reduce the hive size for winter.
    We had planned on extracting honey from both my hive and her two, but nothing I saw in my top super was capped on both sides. Uncapped honey runs the risk of too much moisture which can spoil the whole extracted batch. So in the end, we only took her frames.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. jjl

    jjl dowser/attention whore

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    359
    Trophy Points:
    81
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  6. jjl

    jjl dowser/attention whore

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    359
    Trophy Points:
    81
    The Bees got more and more agitated as we inspected. and downright hostile when we started pulling frames. Jim Jill and I all had bees covering our protective gear and yelling at us from all sides to get the hell away from their stores and leave them alone.
    No amount of smoke would deter them. It was tricky, getting the bees off of the frames of honey and even trickier to get inside the house without Bees getting in as well. Jill has a good size property, (a few acres) and the yard was filled with Bees, Masses of them. Not in the Bee yard, It was Jill's yard that was filled with them for the entire time we extracted.
     
  7. jjl

    jjl dowser/attention whore

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    359
    Trophy Points:
    81
  8. jjl

    jjl dowser/attention whore

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    359
    Trophy Points:
    81
    The process took all day and four of us to accomplish.
    Over and over one or more of us had to suit up to do some kind of job outside. for the several hours it took us to extract, filter, bottle and clean up, every flyer in the hive was outside threatening all of us.
    When we returned the wet but empty frames outside of the hives to clean off, the yard began to calm down. It filled up again after we set the cleaned equipment to dry in the sun. All of the equipment needed to be wiped down with phosphoric acid and air dried outside. This required protective gloves to handle it. The stuff was not to be rinsed and the Bees all filled the yard again. They covered all of the equipment and seemed to love it.
    Jim and I suited up to leave. We went out the front door where there were only a few Bees waiting to yell at us all the way to the car.
    "Go Away! " They yelled at us in their Bee-bonic buzz, "Get the fuck outta here!"
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  9. jjl

    jjl dowser/attention whore

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    359
    Trophy Points:
    81
    So at the moment I am hedging. I have to move my Bees and do not want to stress them any further than that. I will give them a confection sugar shake weekly to knock some of the mites off until I am ready to winter them over.
    Before I put them away for the winter, I will give them an oxalic acid treatment, mixed with sugar water (2:1).
    Except for the treatment free extremists, even the most liberal of Beeks do not seem to object to this treatment.
    But I have to wait for the brood to hatch out.
    My other game plan is freeze a knot of drone brood that I have discovered on a frame. Mites love drones and they would not survive a natural life cycle were they to hatch. Laying some drone brood late in the season is another way Bees contend with mites. If I were to leave it, chances are, the worker Bees would break into the drone comb before development and throw it outside the hive for predators to eat. If I freeze it, it will kill both drone and mite and I can feed it back to the girls. They will enjoy consuming the protein.
     
  10. jjl

    jjl dowser/attention whore

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    359
    Trophy Points:
    81
    I have been hearing from all the Beeks pulling honey that their Bees are acting this way. This is a different scene than the summer when Beeks pulled honey. The girls must feel very threatened, facing the winter with half or more of their stores gone. This is why I have decided to leave the top super on and not to extract. If the girls object this strongly, I will not dispute their wisdom. Truth is, I have honey from every Beek friend I have and can certainly wait until next spring to see if they have anything left over. With the brood I see laid, I feel confident that they will stay warm with the third chamber. I will also take measures by wrapping it in tar paper and lining the inner cover with some kind of insulation. I am considering straw at the moment.
    I think in the end, moving the colony will be stressful enough without heavy chemical treatments or worrying them about their stores.
    I hope I am making the right decision.
    Heavy is the crown.
     
    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1