Monday, September 26, 2011

The bee inspector and a loss

When I arrived home today after meeting a client and having lunch, there was a white car in the driveway. As soon as I saw the state tags I knew - the bee inspector had arrived. This has been a challenging year for the state inspector's office. They did not hire the two part time inspectors so the state inspector has had to do all the inspections.

He's actually been to my hives before. A few years ago, he came out with our local inspector.

This inspection he was really pleased with the amount of bees and how I am managing the hives. The queens are doing well, still laying a few eggs and there are gobs, yes GOBS of larvae. Yay!! The more bees there are now that are larvae or newly emerged, the more bees to keep the queen warm over the winter.

While we were poking I got to actually see Magenta! She is soo much lighter than her daughters. I was really surprised to see such a difference. They must take after their dads.

Mind you, I've been helping them out with some extra pollen which can push out the date that the queen stops laying in the fall. What can I say - I am ever optimistic about fall and that there will be plenty of warm days like today.

On a sad note, yesterday when I was in the hives (and got stung!), it was clear that True was gone. Long gone too - her hive has nasty wax moths. Yuck!!! So I took down one box and will put the frames it the freezer to kill the moths. I will take the honey off in a few days and then I will let that hive die out.

In the spring, I will split our remaining hives - so that we can have a new hive and a daughter queen from one of these hives. In the spring we will determine which hive is strongest and if they can remain strong if we take some bees out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quick Update

We have a new beekeeper in the house - my daughter, age 7, decided she wanted to be in the hives with the girls, so I got her a bee suit and here she is. She doesn't really run the smoker yet, it gets too hot, but she does a great job of helping, handing and holding while standing next to the bees.

We took our medication off the hives today. With the extra help it went super fast. We gave them all more honey - one hive, Magenta's, was very light which is worrisome. Her girls got an extra quart of honey. This is the only hive where the bees have done much of anything with the pollen patties. They have eaten down half of one and they did a great job on the honey we gave them last week.

I am so glad we gave them all extra honey. We had over three days of solid rain. Generally the girls did a great job and took about 3/4 of a quart down in a week. Given that we have nice pollen and nectar sources right now, that's not bad.

I do hope that True's hive has enough bees to make it through the winter, they seem a little slim on population right now. We will see in another week how they are doing.

Go bees!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Care and feeding of honey

I've had a few folks ask me about crystallized honey. Crystallized honey is perfectly safe to eat and hasn't gone bad. Honey contains so little water that it can crystallize over time. Here are three things you can do with it:

1. Use it as is - it might be grainy feeling on your tongue, but it will measure and taste the same.

2. Warm it up - pour water hot from your kitchen tap into a pot. Put the jar of honey in the pot for a while and it will eventually liquefy. Don't heat the honey up, it can change the characteristics and damage some of the nutrients.

3. Put it in the sun - if you have a sunny window sill, you can put the honey in the sun and it will eventually liquefy. Sun exposure may darken your honey but it won't hurt it.

If you really don't want your honey to crystallize, consider keeping it in the freezer. Crystals form best at room temperature, so put a large container in the freezer and use it fill up a smaller container for daily use.

Keep your honey at room temperature so it doesn't absorb moisture. With proper care honey can last forever. That is if you can resist eating it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Spence Fair

I had a great time at the Spencer Fair this year. We got a second place ribbon and I was blown away by this. Our honey is the most competitive class of honey - amber. The exhibit was just too linty this year to be blue-ribbon quality.

We also have a new beekeeper, Rob McNeil, in town and I helped him with his exhibit. His honey is darker and he got a blue ribbon!! {happy dance}

We volunteer at the honey booth every year and for me, the time just flew by. I spent about 5 hours talking about bees to everyone and anyone who stood still for more than three seconds. There were two live bee exhibits and the bees were great to hang out with. The barn got really hot as the afternoon wore on and I think we were all in danger of melting.

Other than the bees, we petted chicks, checked out the cows, squished alpaca yarn, and got in all the military vehicles. And we ate from one end of the fair to the other. What more can you ask for?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Blue Hive in the news!

Check it out - the farmer's market in Millbury was in the news and Blue Hive Honey was photographed.

This was the last market of the season so if you still need honey, let me know. We have one more extraction to go and bears filled with golden amber honey ready to go right now!