Monday, August 31, 2009


My wonderful mentor, Mary, came over ten days ago and we checked out the hives. Joy's hive yielded six, count them, six lovely frames of honey. Now before anyone starts licking their lips in anticipation, I had 19 frames of honey this time last year.

I used my new heated knife that I received as a Christmas gift. This was my first time extracting alone and it went very smoothly.

This year's honey is very different from last year's. Last year our honey was platinum blond and this year it is much darker. The flavor of the black locust tree is still the predominant after taste but the honey is bolder and richer this year.

The best part of the hive check with Mary is that we found low levels of mites. This means that unlike last year, where we had to start treating for mites now (and not collect honey), we will be collecting honey until around the first week of October!

I put the "wet" frames right back on the hives, but not on Joy's hive. Now, for the first time, Pink and Sum both have built out, honey-collecting frames to fill for ME! I am so hopeful that all three hives will produce some people honey this year.

I am planning on going to the fair on Thursday with my two gamber jars of honey that will be polished until they downright shine. Judging will take place Thursday night. I am nervous already.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Little Bee Buddy

My friend Jack came out with me to check out the hives a couple of weeks ago. Jack saw a video last spring in school about honeybees. He's been asking ever since to come and see my bees. Finally we found a time. I put him in my suit and taped the sleeves so no bees could sneak up his sleeves.

He LOVED it - much to his mom's dismay! She's not ready to start a hive nor is she ready to bring Jack to me every week. I am hopeful that I can help find him a mentor who lives close to him and either has kids, or has worked hives with kids before.

The best part was that it inspired my son to want to take a look at the hive. He's never wanted to even get close to the hives before - way too many bees. Much to everyone's surprise, including his, he really like it.

It was pretty neat for me too. I've not been beekeeping long, about 18 months, and here I am already teaching the next generation of beekeepers. How cool is that!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

National Honey Bee Awareness Day

Happy Honey Bee Day!

Celebrate bees by slowing down and looking at them at work and then try the fruits of their labors - honey!

As a beekeeper I am in a really frustrating place right now. If I were further along in my beekeeping career, I'd have plenty of built out frames (where the bees built out honeycomb) and would be ready to jump in to the HUGE nectar flow that is happening right NOW.

But I am still a newbee and barely have enough equipment for one hive let alone the three that grace my yard. And I need an extractor in the very worst way. I need one and I need it yesterday.

What's happening is that the bees are putting honey into the spots where babies should go because there is no where else to put it. (See I need more equipment!) So if there is honey where babies go, the queen will stop laying. This is soo bad. We need LOTS of bees to make it through the winter. They snuggle to keep warm and if there aren't enough bees, they will freeze to death.

That is what happened to one hive last year and I really don't want to experience that again.

Soo, to solve my lack of equipment problem, I need an extractor to get the honey out of the brood chamber so the queen can lay all the beautiful eggs she can. Then I need to put a people honey chamber on the hive so the workers have places to put the honey.

I will feed the girls back their honey in October when the need to fill the hive with honey for the long winter. The queen will have stopped laying eggs by then anyway.

My options are plentiful - many wonderful people are beekeepers and have offered to loan me their extractor. Alas, since I don't have my own, I have to spend the best days of honey production, not collecting honey for ME, but calling to borrow an extractor.
And after that, I will still need an extractor in two weeks to harvest the honey. Now that's a sweet thought!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bees on the Radio

Bees are the focus on NPR's Science Friday. They are sharing the buzz on bees and ways that regular folks can help honeybees (and other pollinators) as well as urban beekeeping.

I love the ideas they put forth for everyday folks to help the bees. Become a beekeeper is one of the best ways to help bees. Short of becoming a beekeeper, you can provide nectar and pollen sources with native flowers. Who wouldn't love to have more flowers in their yard? It will help both honeybees and native bees as well.

Where I live feels suburban, yet I live near an urban area. Many urban areas, including New York City, outlaw beekeeping. I have friends who both keep bees in this city and some who've chosen not to because of neighbor issues. It is a tricky proposition and I am very thankful that I have great neighbors who love my bees.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


I love the smell of fresh bees wax and when I opened Hope's hive it was nearly overpowering. The girls have been busy. I feared that with the wet weather the bees would eat the people honey. Wheew - there is still people honey though not a lot.

With Hope gone - and supposedly half the bees with her - we pebbled that hive. Three weeks ago there were four pebbles, one for each week until we saw larvae or had to get a new queen.

Well, part of the wait is over. I saw Hope's daughter and the new queen: Joy! This is the first time I've found an unmarked queen by myself in my very own hives. I did not see eggs or larvae yet so she is in the early stages of her reign.

I was so nervous - I didn't want her to be damaged by my poking around. I tried to get my camera one handed but with the gloves on, I couldn't quite get everything maneuvered safely so no picture this week.

Joy! Long may she reign.