Thursday, September 19, 2013

Marla Spivak on the Disappearance of Bees

Click here to see the Sept. 15th talk, about 15 minutes long, that she gave on TED:  Ideas Worth Spreading.
In case you are not familiar with Dr. Spivak, she has worked for some years developing a strain of bees which are vigorous in their hygiene behavior, which helps dislodge varoa mites.  She works out of the University of Minnesota.

With our bees, I checked honey supplies, which are very good in each hive, removed all queen excluders and put partial frames in a box atop each inner cover.  I put the lid securely on top and turned the inner cover so the open slot is down in the main hive body.  In a couple weeks I'll check again for food stores and also check to see how brood looks, and hopefully will get a nice warm day yet to do that.  I put the entrance reducers in place as well.  Highs in the coming week to ten days should be in the low 70's with lows in the low 50's, so cooler weather is on the way.

I had thought we might get a bit more honey, but none of the frames were completely capped and ready, though some were on one side.  Still, if they don't consume any of this in the fall I'll just save it for spring feeding.  We were able to get about 100 pounds this season, which is a good number considering most came from one hive.  If all 3 survive the winter well, we may expect a much better harvest next year.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Almost 3 Gallons

Still a little in the strainer, but we'll finish this just shy of 3 gallons.  These are the new gallon jugs we bought this summer at Mann Lake. Ltd. in Minnesota.  They should work nicely for pouring, since they have a good handle.  The honey is light and sweet.  We've noticed no indication yet of goldenrod honey (no dirty sweat sock smell!).  It is in full bloom, so perhaps we'll still see a late surge.  I have probably 7 or 8 frames that are not far from being finished but won't be able to get to those until late September or even October.

We enjoyed the evening at the Iowa City library last night where they screened the film "More Than Honey".  It was certainly thought provoking.  At what point do we vastly overdo it insofar as managing the bees, and how much of the problems we're facing with bees comes from our very own manipulations.  And it isn't just the problem with our management of the honey bee but what we've done overall to the environment and what we're doing with our monoculture practices in agriculture.  Andy Joseph, state apiarist, gave a nice talk before the film.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Harvest

Just a quick update.  We collected frames of honey from all 3 hives, though we'll extract only 11 frames.  We left a super on each hive.  Some frames are completely filled and capped on one side, while others are about 70% capped.  It will be at least a couple weeks until  I can check them again.  This may be our final extraction, though, since I may save those frames for late fall feeding.  Given the weather and the fact that two of the three hives were started this summer, we've done all right with honey and will have over 100 lbs. for the season.  I'll update this tomorrow or the next day with some photos and the amount we extract.  I'm guessing a bit over 2 gallons.

Tomorrow night we're going to a screening in Iowa City of the film "More Than Honey".  Our state apiarist, Andy Joseph, will introduce the film.  I've seen the trailer and it should be very interesting visually at least.