Honey Bee Keeping and other pollinators

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@dragnlaw Do you remember wooden playpens? My mum used one of those and would put us outside in the yard, where she could see us from a window. When my sister, the born engineer, was two and in the playpen, in the backyard. I saw her remove a screw from the corner of the playpen. The side of the playpen fell down and she took off like a bat out of hell. I was five at the time. I caught her before she got to the gate in the chain link fence in front of the house. We knew she would figure out how to open that.

She had figured out exactly which screws would let her out and how to loosen them. So, sometimes that two year old is running loose, just because they are that kind of kid, not because the parents let them run loose. Yeah, my parents did something to the playpen so it wouldn't happen again and watched her even more carefully after that. I remember my parents talking about the fact that she had only removed the minimum number of screws needed to make that side fall down.
LOL, I'm guessing had your sister come into contact with an electric fence, after she got up off her butt, she would have figured out how to short it out. :LOL:
When we start feeding our bees back their honey (in the fall and spring), they recommend adding a 'bee tea' of many herbs and flowers.
I cut echnacea, yarrow, lemon balm, spearmint, and creeping thyme, pulled the leaves off the hard stems, and put them in the dehydrator. 105 deg F Once dry, I'll rub the leaves off the softer stems, then grind for the tea.

beecheck #10, we had help with our neighbor Zach.
We put in another hive, the blue hive.
We did a 'walk away split', removing half the frames from an overpopulated hive, into a new hive, letting the bees hopefully making themselves a new queen from the eggs and larva. It's a risky deal, but it has been known to work. We can't look in it for 21-35 days to see if it was a success or not.

We checked the rest of the hives, found the queens, everything is good. We removed a deep box, added 2 supers on the hives. The deep box w/honey went to the basement refrigerator.

I was stung once, ring finger, 2 days of swelling and today it's getting better. Mr bliss stung twice, fingers. It's gonna happen and I don't wear a suit or gloves, and he wears a suit but only 6 mil gloves. Zach wears both the suit and gloves. (it's hot in those suits)

We're preparing hives 5 and 6 in the basement, building them, then soaking them in a preservative, then painting, assembling, preparing the ground below the hives...lots of stuff to do.
I used 6 oz of rendered wax with 8 oz of flax seed oil to make some furniture polish today. One of my friends wants furniture wax and I usually don't have any on hand, so I made some for both of us.

No bear sightings for a week now. I look every day.
Bee checks #10 and #11, I was stung on a different finger, then on my head. They are a little more aggressive with this oppressive heat in the 90's.
We ordered a tent to do the honey extractions. It should be here in a week or so.
The bear was sighted again about 7.5 miles west of us yesterday.
@larry_stewart we sure are learning a lot day to day and week to week. It is our first year, so that is kind of expected I guess, and getting stung, kind of expected. We have 2 more hives going in, this fall or next spring, we'll have 6 then. We could have extracted honey in the basement/garage/in the house, if we had room but we aren't that organized, the tent will help. We'll have a better idea of how things go as we start in next spring. There's a lot of expenses with bee keeping the first year and deciding which thing to buy is always tough. I'm glad people are interested. It's been so fun for us. I started reading the book: The Lives of Bees, by flashlight when the power went out. I was glad to have a good book.

There are other ways to have bees. Some people have a bee keeper leave some hives on their property, they do all the upkeep on the hives and the bees enjoy the trees/flower/vegetation there, honey goes with the bee keeper. Some people have a bee keeper do the weekly checks for a monthly fee, then extract the honey for the person, the person buys the hives/equipment. Some people work out a hybrid situation on who's equipment/does the bee checks/does the extraction. Just ask at your local bee keeper's meetings to find out which bee keepers do this kind of work and the $ involved.

I have to say, our apples are going to be a bumper crop, from the bees. The zucchini and beans have so many bees on them, so I expect we'll have good pollination. We also have the common eastern bumble bee nest under our deck, :ROFLMAO:

It's very fun. Which is why we are going from 3 hives to 6 hives. Thanks!
A few years back, when I was att the Philly Flower Show ( Highly recommended to anyone who is in Philly when it's going on, usually early March), I attended a bee lecture. It was very interesting, and the guy doing the lecture had a business where, like you said, its almost like leasing the hive, but them come and do all the upkeep. I was going to do it to get first hand experience alongside a pro. never did it though ( wish I did ). Right now, just focussing on the solitary bees, but one day I may dive into honey bees.
Our next bee adventure is getting the supers that hold the honey off the hives, remove the bees with brushes and possibly a leaf blower, put them in huge bags to hold until we extract honey on Sunday. I say sunday but it is sunday only if it rains. The bees don't fly in rain and they won't come looking for the honey if it rains.
Bee check #12 tonight. I'll take pictures of getting the supers. We'll be checking the 'walk away' hive to see if they have created a queen (we sure hope so), and fill the sugar water feeder for them. We'll do a general check for the queens and look for disease, so anything strange we see we have to figure out.

And with all of this we bought a tent to do the honey extraction. The extractor will get bolted to a pallet, the strainer and bucket under that. We'll follow up with filling the jars. Then the empty comb in the supers gets put back on the hive for the bees to clean up (eat the honey and store it, dry the comb). I'll take pictures for sure.

This is the monstrous tent. With floors, 3 entrances so we can escape if the bees start to congregate on any side. 4 rooms.


We weren't planning on this big or this kind of tent, but we hope it cleans up well with a hose.
We removed the 4 supers and put them in bags in the tent, using brushes and the leaf blower. We didn't check the walk away hive until today. It has one emergency cell in it, where a queen could have been born. It may be on its mating flight but there are no eggs laid in that hive yet. There may be NO queen or the queen might be mating and return soon. In the mean time, while we hope and wait, we put in more sugar syrup for the bees and another frame of eggs from another hive in case they need to still build a queen/emergency cell, for a queen.
If she already exists, then sees the new queens emerging (later), she or the workers will kill them off. Either way there should be a queen soon, we hope.
Yesterday was extraction day. We (3 of us) worked from 1 pm-8 pm and we were dead tired and hungry after spinning out the frames.
Today we finished bottling honey. Today is the Bee's Honey Reclamation Day, where all the equipment and deeps and supers are put out on the lawn for the bees to take back to the hive. This naturally cleans the equipment and wax cappings. They'll work on it today and then tomorrow too. We'll melt and clean the wax on the next hot day.

When the bees are done with cleaning, we'll rinse or wash things and put them away for next year. The tent still needs to get hosed down anywhere honey touched the floors or sidewalls. That'll take a few days to dry again.

Three hives.
Out the mediums, 35 pints or 52.5 lbs of honey
Out of the deeps, 38 qts or 114 lbs of honey
So 166.5 lbs of honey for 2023.
Inside the tent, the boxes of frames covered in black plastic on the left, the honey spinner in the middle, the decapping tank on the right.

The comb has wax caps made by the bees. Those caps get cut off with a knife or a decapping fork. This allows the honey to flow out of the hexagon shaped cells. A little honey flows out going into the decapping tank for straining, but most comes out in the spinner.

What the tank looks like with lots of wax cappings and honey in it.


The top of the honey extractor, showing the racks inside that hold the frames of honey.

Here the extractor is spinning honey out against the sides of the tank. It collects at the bottom of the tank.

Here is the bottom of the tank, it has a honey gate on it, from there is goes into a double strainer with cheese cloth to get the wax bits out.

then I take the bucket of strained honey and put it in jars (pints and quarts) and then into cases. The bucket has a honey gate to make filling jars much easier.

And then the equipment and frames is put out near the hives for the bees to clean up residual honey. It's taken 2-3 days for them to get that done.
This is finally a good close up of our carniolan bees. You can right click and open the picture in a new tab then expand it far and see them up close and personal. There's a dead wasp in the water, and a different bug up on top of the rock. This is the wok bird waterer, but we put the rock in so the bees could land and drink and not drown.
beecheck #10, we had help with our neighbor Zach.
We put in another hive, the blue hive.
We did a 'walk away split', removing half the frames from an overpopulated hive, into a new hive, letting the bees hopefully making themselves a new queen from the eggs and larva. It's a risky deal, but it has been known to work. We can't look in it for 21-35 days to see if it was a success or not.

Today is day 32. Bee check #14. Last week we saw one possible queen cell, a small one. We didn't know if it was a queen with her possibly out on a mating flight or not. We put in another frame of eggs and larva from another hive. Today we saw the new queen! She is small but had laid a 5x5 section of eggs and larva! A success, we were so surprised and happy about it! Now we have 4 hives.
The new queen is marked in red now so we can find her easier.
Zach is all in with bee keeping, he'll be getting his own hive(s) soon.
They went to the beekeepers monthly meeting tonight and both took out books about beekeeping.
There isn't a day we don't talk about the bees and work on something about them. Our next beecheck is the 16th, for the 4 hives.
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