Bee Updates

Yes, I’m a slacker with blogging!

But that doesn’t mean we quit the most expensive hobby. I’ll give a list of updates and then try to remain consistent throughout this season.

1. This has been a very successful year with honey and lip balm sales. We’ve really  gotten to know more of our neighborhood, which is awesome!

2. The lip balm container problem may have been resolved.

3. Mighty Mite Thermal Treatment is our current attempted method for dealing with mites.

4. We went into winter with 6 hives and entered spring with 3.

5. We did another on-site presentation with some of our neighborhood children.

6. We attended the annual Geneva Bee Conference.

7. Two more package bees were purchased and we briefly had 5 hives.

8. One of our hives that swarmed (quite an event that I’ll write about another day) actually absconded.

9. With 4 hives left, another one swarmed- much too high to catch.

10. For the first time, we purchased a queen.

11. With 10 queen cells brewing (as potential replacements for that last swarm) several hive splits were attempted.

12. More than anything, we really want to figure out queen rearing. $$$

13. We’ve decided to enroll in the eCornell Master Beekeeper program.

Here’s a little swarm video:

Interesting Fact: Our hive that absconded? That was the last of the mean-queen descendants, so we are glad they left.

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But, is it organic?

“Is the honey organic?” is a question that is often asked.

Nope. Let me tell you why.

Honeybees can travel up to 5 miles to gather their pollen and nectar. Right now, the girls are all about the Dandelions. Are the Dandelions in your yard certified organic? Is the soil organic? Maybe your yard is organic, but is your neighbors’?

I have no idea where they came from to get their bright yellowish Dandelion pollen.

So, why do some honey businesses call themselves organic? Well, if their hives are placed in the center of an at least 5 mile radius certified organic farm, then they can label their honey organic.

We live in the city in Rochester, NY. We cannot prove that everyone’s yard is free from chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, etc. Harvesting organic honey would be completely impossible here.

Interesting fact: If you buy raw, local honey that also claims to be organic, the business is either lying or ill-informed.

Sorry, we’ve been busy as bees

Our blog has been on the furthest back burner since July, but that doesn’t mean that the bees have been abandoned. Here’s what has happened since our last post.

“A Swarm in July, Let Them Fly”

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I thought about letting them go, but they were right in front of my face. There are risks with capturing swarms later in the summer. Firstly, they are supposed to be grumpier at this time of the year which means the beekeeper is more likely to be stung. Secondly, the chances of them building up the hive in time for winter are slim. This was a risk I was willing to take, if for nothing else, the learning experience of catching a swarm in July.

“Hey Dad, can you build me a nuc box, like right now?”

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When catching a swarm, you need a place for them to live. Well, we were out of hive boxes. They lived in a styrofoam nuc for about a week, and then my father constructed this for us. They have since filled the first box with 5 frames of honey, but the second box is empty. They haven’t even started building up comb on the frames, so we will have to insert some capped honey frames from other hives.

We extracted 6 gallons of honey at the end of July.

After extracting the honey, we rendered more wax than we’ve ever rendered at one time.

 

Then we got married and gave honey as our wedding favor. Super cute label by our Allie.

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As for September, this is what the ladies in our 6 hives have looked like for the past few weeks:

 

We should be extracting more in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!