Showing posts from August, 2013

I Hate Bugs

Well, except bees.  But it seems these days that every time you turn around some new pest has materialized out of the blue.  Or out of Asia.  Or Australia.  Or somewhere.  My blueberries had the best crop I've ever had this year.  The early picking was great, with only a few berries showing some signs of disease (probably anthracnose) and then the usual onslaught from the Japanese beetles.

Although they're still out in pretty good numbers, they are starting their seasonal decline and aren't being quite the pest they were.  Then, I began to notice some very soft berries and discovered small holes in the berries that oozed juice when slightly squeezed. Opening them up, I discovered a small white grub.  A little research led me to an insect I had never heard of before:  blueberry maggot.  So, I pretty much abandoned the blueberries for this year, deciding I would severely trim them back, remove all dropped berries and mulch around the plants and do dormant spraying when ther…

Fall Treatment

I finished treating the hives this morning.  It was a bit cool (71 degrees) and overcast, and the bees were a bit testy.  It seems there is always at least one who takes her guarding very seriously and has to get in my face to let me know it.  No stings, but a couple tried in my shirt.  This is the final treatment I will do with hopguard, and will switch next year to Apivar.  I did put a sheet below the screen in the bottom board of hive #2, my most vigorous hive, and after 3 days there were very few mites on the sticky sheet, fewer than 50 after more than 3 days.  I'll be happy with that anytime.

 The hives all look good.  You may not be able to see in the photo above, but each hive has a top box full of capped honey, quite heavy.  This plus additional honey below should be adequate stores for the winter.  Also, each hive is still producing brood. Pulling a frame from hive #1, I saw the queen down in the box on the side of another frame. This is the first I've seen her since …

( How to ) Mind Your Beeswax

I decided to go ahead today and process the beeswax we harvested with our first honey extraction.  It was a warm day outside but nice and cool in the barn, so I thought working in there would be a good idea.  The wax comes from the cappings on the honey from the two medium supers we extracted a few weeks ago.  After thoroughly washing the cappings, I laid them out on layers of newspaper on a sheet of plywood, turning them every time I went into the barn for the next couple of days and changing the newspaper daily.  After a few days, the wax was dry and crumbly and only mildly sticky, as wax should be.

I process the wax in a double boiler.  Beeswax has a melting point of around 145 degrees F (about 63 C.), so you don't want direct heat.  In fact, about 185 degrees will discolor the wax and you won't get the nice, creamy yellow color.  I put a few inches of water in the bottom pan and set it on the burner to heat up.  In this whole process, my water never got to the boiling poin…