Thursday, July 16, 2015
visiting the bees...
The time is drawing near! The Spring nectar flow has come and gone, the busy bees have foraged and gathered and fanned and stored and capped tiny cups of sweet honey in the comb. Very soon now we'll be taking just the surplus from the hives, leaving more than enough to nourish the bees through the coming winter. We purchased our own extractor this year, a big, gleaming drum that uses centrifugal force to spin honey from frames of honeycomb. We chose a hand-cranked model with capacity to hold 2 frames (with the option to upgrade to 9 frames)... perfect for our small apiary.
A few days ago we peeked into the hives, assessing their numbers, health, needs, and just how much honey could be shared with us. We gently lifted off the hive roof and puffed a little smoke from the smoker, our way of asking the bees to move aside to allow us to enter without incident.
Bee numbers had increased so robustly in all but one hive! Every one seemed healthy, busy, and ready for more elbow room. We scraped away any wayward comb and overzealous propolizing. We checked for brood in all stages, finding eggs, larva, capped brood, and even saw a little bee friend emerging into the world!
We decided to begin feeding a sugar syrup to the one colony with the smaller (but strong!) population, encouraging them to build wax comb and bee numbers. (We don't usually feed sugar syrup to our bees, but in this case it can prove helpful.)
The tops were placed back on the hives, leaving the bees to their work. We'll return this week to extract from second and third year hives; we leave all honey stores for the bees in the hives that were started this year, giving the bees the best chance to build their numbers and go into winter with lots of nourishment.
Before sitting down to share on the blog this morning, I was pondering our dinner menu. What to cook? What to cook? WHAT TO COOK? I came up empty, and wandered out to the kitchen garden to see what might be ready to harvest. Menu problem solved.