This is disturbing

I had heard of this video but hadn’t watched it. It’s extremely disturbing. I watch European Hornets circle my hives, try to land on the frames when I’m doing an inspection, grabbing bees as they crawl along the outside of the hives. I’ve set up my hornet and wasp traps to hopefully lure them away from the hives, I’ve used 2 versions: one version uses the banana peels and the other uses turkey cold-cuts. I’ll let you know which one seems to catch more European Hornets. At least there’re not Giant Japanese Hornets.

Remember the blueberries?

So a few posts ago I mentioned that I saw honey bees eating the blueberry pulp of my backyard over-ripe blueberries. I took a few pictures that day and I wanted to share. There’s one of a wasp and one of a honey bee.

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Cool, yes?

Honey Harvesting, Part Deux

Once the supers were inside, the messy part began: uncapping. Oh my goodness what a mess but at least it was contained, I happened to have a very large cookie sheet that served as the “honey catcher” fairly well: we uncapped the frames while resting the frames on the sheet, any honey that ran out was collected on the tray and later scraped into the strainer. My husband was excellent at that, he wanted every bit of honey we could get! We did 2 sessions of harvesting and the picture below is from the second one. Remember, all pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

You can see the cappings roller on the right, I think it's supposed to perforate the cappings but it gets so filled with cappings and honey that it was useless after the first few rolls. I went back to my capping scratcher. It was also a real pain to clean, if you wanted to keep any of the wac or honey.

You can see the cappings roller on the right, I think it’s supposed to perforate the cappings but it gets so filled with cappings and honey that it was useless after the first few rolls. I went back to my capping scratcher. It was also a real pain to clean, if you wanted to keep any of the wax or honey.

You can see how some comb was EXTREMELY thick. Some of it had been drawn out twice! Meaning the bees had drawn, filled and capped honey, then drawn, filled and capped AGAIN over the capped honey. Bizarre.

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Wax and honey in the filter, in my canning pot., the only pot large enough to hold the filters. I let this sit in water over night and fed the resulting honey water back to the bees. Once I drained the filter, it sat on my counter with a rag underneath to catch any moisture. After a few days the wax was dry and ready for melting.

Wax and honey in the filter, in my canning pot, the only pot large enough to hold the filters. I let this sit in water overnight and fed the resulting honey water back to the bees. Once I drained the filter, it sat on my counter with a rag underneath to catch any moisture. After a few days the wax was dry and ready for melting.

This year, I've only packaged my honey in one pound jars.

This year, I’ve only packaged my honey in one pound jars.

The jar on the right is known as a victorian square and it’s my favorite. But it’s very pricey as I can only get it online and the shipping costs double the price of the jars. The muth jar (with the cork) is extremely attractive as it has an embossed skep on the back and also “One Pound of Honey” embossed in the glass. The middle jar is one that I bought for home at the request of my husband. He wanted an easy squeeze plastic bottle for using on biscuits, etc. I made bread yesterday using this bottle and I have to say it was extremely easy to just squeeze it out, rather than pouring it from a spout that would get sticky as a result. The lid is a dripless lid and you store the bottle on the lid with no leaks! But I’m not a fan of storing items in plastic, so we’ll see if I use these again. 

You can see I’ve added a shrink band to the muth jar: the cork makes me nervous when customers pick up their honey, I always worry the cork is going to come out. So I started using the shrink bands to ease my mind rather than as a “no tamper” indicator, though that doesn’t hurt.

The victorian square is sporting a tamper-evident seal from Brushy Mountain which I love. It says “USA Honey” on it, and I like that my customers know their honey has been untouched after bottling. I have a beekeeper friend who told me a woman came up to his honey stand, opened the bottle and stuck her finger in it!!!! Needless to say, she had to buy that bottle. Crazy people.

The plastic jar has a seal inside the lid that fastens itself to the jar when the lid is screwed on.

I’m seriously considering going with a regular queenline glass jar (shape is the same as the middle jar) and just buying black lids. Queenlines are the ones most beekeepers here use. But what I like about my honey is the packaging: it’s like nothing you normally see for sale at fairs and festivals. I think I’m going to take this winter and design my own labels too, ones that I can print at home. The labels in the picture are from myownlabels.com also known as evermine.com. What I especially like about these labels is that they are waterproof vinyl, so if someone puts their crystallized honey jar in a pan of hot water to liquify it, the label remains intact. It is also repositionable, and that is an appreciated feature.

So much to think about this winter, jars, labels, and making my own soap. Next time: my homemade solar wax melter!

Brrrr….

So we had a low of 44 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. The bees are on a slope in the back of our yard and were quite likely cooler than that. I was so worried about them!! I wasn’t sure if there were enough bees to cover the brood in Melissa, remember I moved a frame of brood up into the second deep I added Monday? But then I started thinking about how many bees I saw in the honey super and in the bottom deep that day, it was well over 8 frames of bees on a sunny day so I think they were okay.

Just in case, I checked them out today (just observing their activity) to see if they were hauling out any chilled brood today. Everything looked fine, they were hauling pollen in still. Then again, if the brood died, the bees wouldn’t waste it and would in all likelihood eat it. Never waste protein!

New image

I’m trying out a new theme for the blog. I wanted something with a smaller font and a non-white page but I’m not sure how much of the color I can play with. Bear with me in case the look changes a few times!

I don’t think there’s enough of a contrast for my taste though. Sigh. This is going to take some work.

Update: Well, that was a no-go. Good heavens. Not only was it too difficult to find a theme that was a darker color but the one I ended up liking said I wasn’t authorized to use it!! Ugh.

I’ll post a hive update tomorrow. Great news, Demeter is working the upper deep!