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Showing posts from September, 2011

Deformed wings

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We were out back with our son a couple days ago, looking at the pumpkins and bees, when Marbles, our white cat, who is always tagging along outside, tore off suddenly and then stopped under the willow tree, biting at his paw.  Grant said "I think he just got stung."  Then he noticed there were a number of bees walking around on the ground.  On closer examination, we could see that most had stunted, torn or missing wings.  Bad news.

I had been planning to treat them this fall after the harvest, but due to some traveling, harvesting and wine making and just plain procrastination, I hadn't done it yet.  Although it was threatening to rain soon, I suited up right away and did an application of the miticide Hopguard, which I purchased at the Mann Lake shop earlier this summer when we were in that area fishing.   I put two strips on each of 3 brood boxes.  I check my pull-out board in the back of the bottom board each time I examine the hives and it was my general feeling that…

Harvest 2011

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We knew it was going to be a better harvest than last year.  We bottled two gallons in 2010 from 7 frames.  This year, we had just over 3 gallons from 10 frames.  They were really gorgeous frames this year, very full and heavy.
Of the 10 frames, 4 were frames I had prepared with a starter strip, so the bees drew out the comb in the frame.  We wanted to try some comb honey, and we ended up with a nice supply for our friends and relatives who would like to try honey is this form.  Below, you see Kathy holding one of the frames of comb honey.  It worked well, except these 4 frames had to be cut apart since the bees had built according to their blueprints, not ours.  Still, we recovered some very nice comb honey to cut into squares.  What didn't survive went into the mix with the regular honey.
Kathy used an electric knife this time to uncap the cells.  She liked the way it worked, though she might try reversing the knife blades next year since it really does help the cappings fall of…

Buckwheat

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Kathy planted buckwheat in one area of her garden.  She did this for two reasons:  to provide a cover to keep weeds out of an area she currently wasn't planting and to till the buckwheat under before it went to seed to help replenish nutrients in the soil.  She tilled it in once already, and this is a second growth.
It's really quite a lovely cover plant, full of blossoms.  She had planned to till this in again until we noticed how many of our honey bees are on it.  We have about 3 acres of land, with many plants growing and blossoming, including prairie plots, the vegetable garden, orchard--but never have we seen the bees take to any of our plants like they have to the buckwheat.  There are hundreds on this little plot.
 Buckwheat is known to produce a dark, almost black honey that has, according to World of Honey.com,  a "pleasant hay-like, earthy smell, and an unforgettable malty, rich, molasses flavor which is not over-sweet."  Additionally, there are a number of…