Bad Luck

October 26th, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

The last couple of weeks have been a little rough. Our driver had an accident last week on the way home from making deliveries. The van got totalled and he broke his leg. This is the second roll over we have had in less than 2 years. The first being with a load of bees in the van, fortunately this time he was empty. Bill is picking up the replacement van today…I guess it is a green one.

I didn’t have much time to post anything last week, partly due to the van wreck, but mainly because of a 720 piece comb honey order I had to cut. I spent many hours getting it ready. I will have all of the comb honey used up by the end of the week.

We still haven’t pulled honey off of the hives yet as our truck is having problems and no one can figure out what is wrong…when it rains it pours and yeah we have had plenty of rain too. Hoping next week will be a winner!

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October 8th, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

We had a frost this week and it finished off the Goldenrod and Bamboo bloom. The bees still have the Aster to work on but it seems they prefer flying around the buildings looking for free helpings of honey.

We have been doing some custom extracting jobs for local beekeepers this week and so far everything that has come in has been Goldenrod honey. We are hoping to start pulling some honey off of our own hives starting this next week sometime.

I have been working on cutting comb honey for a large order for the last few days. As fast as we are going through the comb honey I expect we will be sold out sometime in November. So, if anyone wants some awesome cut comb or chunk honey you had better order soon!

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Cleaning our observation hives

September 28th, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

Today I have decided to clean both of our observation hives. The last fall cleaning is always the worst! It seems that the bees collect so much nectar from the Goldenrod that they go into a super wax production mode and because they don’t need to build all that much comb this time of year they deposit it all over the glass…some of it is even full of honey.

I start out by taking the top part of the hive outside to open it up. Keep in mind that it’s never a good idea to open one of these up inside…lol. Once I have them outside and using as little smoke as possible I open the door and look for the queen. I like to capture her and place her in a queen cage for safe keeping. I would hate to injury her while removing and manipulating the frames. I was lucky this time and she was on the open side but if by chance she is on the other side you will have to remove some frames to get to her…”bee” careful!

I carefully remove one frame at a time, starting from the top and working down, with as many bees as possible clinging to the frame and place them in a 5 frame nuc box. You could also use an empty hive body for this. I place the queen cage right on the top so the bees know she is still around.

There are always some rebel bees that feel they need to stay and protect the honey that is dripping down the glass.

I have found the easiest way to deal with the rebels is to brush them off with a bee brush on to a piece of cardboard and then shake them off on to the nuc box. It’s a good idea to use your smoker while doing this as they usually aren’t too excited about being brushed.

It’s finally time to start cleaning off all of that wax and honey. Like I had mentioned before the fall requires more cleaning than any other time of year and in fact there normally is nowhere near this amount of wax on the glass. Our main observation hive has only been cleaned out 3 times this year and our second observation hive only twice. The honey and wax will not be wasted. I start by scraping the bulk of it off with a hive tool and placing it into a pail to be taken to the honey house to be processed.

After getting the bulk of the wax off I switch to a razor-blade scraper which gets nearly all of the wax off and this would be good enough in most cases but I like to get everything cleaned up to where it almost looks new. So after getting it scraped off I hose the hive down with hot water.

 

I then dry the hive off and clean the glass with some foaming glass cleaner. Looks so much better now!

 

Once the hive is all cleaned up it’s time to put the girls back in to their clean abode. I did scrape off the edges of the frames before putting them back in the hive. I like to start with the bottom frame and put them back in the same order as they were before being removed.

With all of the frames back in place it’s time to release the queen. Just pull the cork and let her out on the face of one of the frames.

After carefully closing the door to the observation hive I needed to take care of the remaining work force still in the nuc box. I just took them close to the hive entrance and shook them out on to the ground. They started heading up the wall to get back inside immediately so I had to get the observation hive back inside and open it up so they could get back in.

I set the hive back on the base and opened the sliding door and in comes a wave of bees anxious to get back to work. The whole cleaning took me about 1 hour per hive. I shouldn’t have to get into the hives again until spring now.

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September 15th, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

I haven’t had time to even think about posting anything here this week until just now – 4:11 pm 09/15/11. I am the only one here this week as everyone else is on vacation. I have been putting in at least 10 hours straight every day this week. I will say this; it is good to be busy as a bee as the days just fly by! I know it is honey harvesting time when I start getting more custom printed label orders than normal ~ I have printed over 10,000 labels so far this week!

The bees have been hard at work on the bamboo, goldenrod and asters. However this cold front we have going through our area is going to put a damper on the honey flow for a few days. Hopefully we will see some warmer days again to get that nectar flowing again.

I have a big tour bus stopping in on Saturday with 38 people expecting a lecture and tour so I ask that any of my normal Saturday customers to please stay home this Saturday…lol…I’m not sure I can handle the big tour and lots of customers at the same time all by myself. I normally don’t do tours on Saturdays however it was the only time they could come. I’m sure it will be fun but I may turn the phones off while they are here so if you want to get a hold of me on Saturday you had better call on Friday…lol.

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September is National Honey Month

September 6th, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

This is the perfect time to break out the honey and try something new.  You can watch a video on how to use honey by clicking here.

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August 31st, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

The smell of Goldenrod honey is in the air at our place. Every day on my way to and from work I can smell the sweet smell of Goldenrod in our home beesite as I pass by…it’s a sign that fall will soon be upon us and that we will turning on the extractors soon.

We were fortunate that we didn’t get hit my Irene and we feel for all of those that did. I’m certain many beekeepers along the east coast lost their hives to the hurricane, although I doubt we will see much about that in the news. We feel bad for the beekeepers but even worse for the poor bees!

I will be out of the office tomorrow and Friday as I will be helping my daughter move in to her dorm at college. I’m having a hard time believing how very fast the years “buzzed” by (ha, ha beekeeping reference), the next thing you know I’m just going to be an old drone bee :)

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August 26th, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

One of our observation hives swarmed on Thursday and landed in a Honeysuckle Bush.

We did collect it and shook them into an empty log that had bees in it last year. I had put a piece of plywood on top of the log to keep the rain out so I drilled a hole out and put a sugar feeder jar on it. Hopefully the bees can build up with the help of the sugar syrup and maybe even get some honey and make it through the winter.

I had a large tour group in this morning of kids and parents and I just wanted to thank the parents for all of the exceptionally well behaved kids and a good job to the kids, as that makes giving the tour a pleasure instead of a “chore”!

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August 19th, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

It’s been another busy week…which is great!

Today I finally got around to doing some work on the observation hive. I found and marked the queen and then removed 2 frames of sealed brood to stop them from swarming. I took those frames of brood and added them to our queen bank hive and put 2 new foundation frames in their place. In just a few hours they already have some comb built up. I will probably end up having to take some more brood out sometime this fall so we can keep this awesome queen! It was hard cleaning the glass off as there were thousands of bees all over it. I had to smoke them continuously as I scraped the beeswax off the glass. The amazing thing is I only wore an open veil and I didn’t get stung once – nice bees!

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Busy as a Bee

August 13th, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

The saying “Busy as a Bee” is reflected in the picture below. Notice the jagged edges on this worker bees wings. She has obviously been a busy bee! A bees wings beat at around 11,000 times a minute as they fly around collecting nectar, pollen, propolis and water for their hive. They fly around 15 miles per hour and will visit between 50 and 100 flowers on each trip. Working that hard is why they only live for around 6 weeks during the production season.  An entire battalion of worker bees will have to fly over 55,000 miles to collect enough nectar to make a single pound of honey.

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August 12th, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

We have bottled honey everyday this week, all but today’s run contained at least 2,000 pounds of honey per day into various containers. Todays’ run was just a batch of Blueberry and Raspberry flavored honey packed into 1 lb. jars. It sure smelled like berries in the honey house while I was doing it! When I got finished with that I came into the office to cover for Bill while he went to the Post Office and as soon as I sat down I noticed that we had a customer…see picture below.

I stepped outside to invite her in to take a tour but she must have had other plans.

 

 

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