Kathy, (aka "Bessie"), and I began our beekeeping experience in the fall of 2008, when we began a year-long course in beekeeping through the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We got our first package of bees in April of 2009. At the suggestion of our daughter, Jessica, we are logging our beekeeping experience. Hope you find it interesting. It has been interesting, rewarding and entertaining for us as well.
It was a nice day for extracting honey. The outside temp was about 83 degrees, but fairly pleasant in the barn with fans on. Warm enough for the honey to flow pretty well. We pulled 18 frames off hive #2, our strong hive. We weighed each frame, and had 86 pounds prior to extraction. There were some very nice looking frames and some not as perfect, but still held a lot of honey.
Extracted, we have 4 gallons drawn off and the wax cappings are still draining with what looks like at least one more gallon. With the weight of a gallon coming in just around 12 pounds, that would give us about 60 pounds extracted.
Here Kathy is putting the wax cappings into the filters. We put the filter pail out into the back of our truck, which has a topper. It's pretty warm in there and we'll draw that off in the morning and then I'll wash off the wax to save for processing later. The honey has great taste but is distinctly darker when compared with last year's honey, even the later from the fall which was darker than our early harvest last year. This honey must be from a whole blend of various sources. The bees right now are all over the clover, so I suspect we'll have a nice second harvest as well.
This is a follow-up to my last post. Thanks to Barbara Beekeeper, whose blog I follow, I've now learned that the bad odor we experienced each of the past two autumns is not caused by the coincidental appearance of the wax worms but by one of the most abundant fall bloomers--goldenrod. When the goldenrod honey is curing in the hive, it gives off odors that can be quite strong and seemingly have a different effect on different people. After reading Barbara's account, I did a bit more research and found that a number of people mistake the odor for American Foul Brood, and tear their hives apart fearing to find the evidence that would indicate they needed to destroy their hives. Others liken the smell to smelly, wet socks (or feet), while others note the odor but don't find it unpleasant. In our experience, the odor is a sickly, sweet but sour smell, quite strong. Apparently, there are a number of varieties of goldenrod which could account for variance in the way peo…
In trying to decide how to go about removing the bees from the frames when we go to harvest the honey, we looked at options such as the fume board, brushing, blowing or shaking bees off the frames, or using a bee escape. We've chosen to try the last option. The fume boards work quickly, but we didn't like the thought of "fumigating" our bees or the honey. My experience with brushing bees off the frames has been that it does not make them very happy. I like to keep them happy. So we decided to go with the bee escape method.
There are a number of bee escapes available commercially and there are also plans for building a variety of bee escapes. Most of the commercial bee equipment outlets sell a simple bee escape that is oblong in shape and fits in the opening of a standard inner cover. It allows the bees to move from the honey super to the hive body below. These are quite inexpensive, costing only a couple dollars. You can also buy, from Dadant, a board which i…
Kathy and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Costa Rica. It was basically an eco-tour, arranged by a former classmate of mine who has retired from Iowa State University and has taken groups to Central America for more than a decade. We saw beautiful scenery, many wonderful birds, reptiles and mammals, ate terrific food and made new friends. It was a great time, and with the slow emergence of spring I'm wishing I were right back there!
One side trip we took was to a huge pineapple plantation. It was very interesting learning how they are planted, harvested and selected for either fresh pineapple, juice, or what have you. As we were enjoying our treats at the end of the tour, I noticed some small insects very busy, coming and going, at the base of a column that supported the open serving area. I looked closer, and noticed many small insects flying in and out of a small tube going into a crack.
My guess was they were some type of bee. Jim, my friend and our guide, wh…