Thursday, February 26, 2009

help the bees and eat ice cream

The following image shows how high hives can get to be at times. I am planning on making a switch to shallower boxes so that I am better able to move them when needed, and so I asked for advice from the organic beekeeping email chat group that I am part of, and a member sent me this image of his hives. His point was that it is a good idea, but that the hives tend to be taller than ones using deeper boxes. Note the loads of bees on the front of the hive. This must have been taken on a pretty hot day.
These beekeeper people are pretty intense. I could send out a question at 11:00 p.m., and by 8:00 a.m., there might be five or more responses. In July I plan on attending a three day conference where I will finally get a chance to meet some of the big names in the (bee) field.
Maybe we will eat some ice cream.

Speaking of ice cream
Haagen Dazs has been doing sooo much to help the honey bees, that you really ought to suffer through a pint of their new line of honey vanilla ice creams in order to show your support. So far they have given $500,000 to several Universities that are conducting research to solve the mysteries of Colony Collapse Disorder, funded the creation of a honey bee friendly garden and established a web-site that aims to bring awareness to the importance of the honey bee. Check it out at You may even want to send someone a honey bee email, which means that you can build an animated bee and email it to your friends. Oh, and don't forget to try the honey vanilla, or lowfat honey vanilla with granola (the only ones that I have tried so far.) Yum....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February bees

Given the warm weather today, I made my first hive inspection of 2009. Most bees that don't make it through the winter die in March because they have started to raise brood but nothing is blooming yet and they don't have enough food to get them through the last gasp of winter. My goal therefore, was to make sure that they have enough stores left to get them through the next few months. I have four frames of capped honey that I pulled in the fall and have been saving in case they need them. The inspection was short and sweet. It was a fruit day (good news from a planetary perspective), the smoker caught, and the top super was still FULL of honey! The girls were out and about, enjoying the warmth and the sun, clearing out the dead (all those black spots on the snow), and pooping all over the place. They are very hygienic creatures, and will not poop in the hive, so a day like today comes as a welcome relief to them. They were attracted to my white helmet and light colored clothes and I enjoyed watching them as they perched on me and rested.

The image below shows the tray that sits under the hive. I pull this tray out to see what is going on in the hive. On it, I can see if I have any mites (NO!), and in the winter I can see where in the hive they are clustering. The yellow dusty stuff is wax cappings that the girls are chewing off of the frames to get at the honey. Today I can see that they have been clustered to one side of the hive.

I have decided to by a new nuc (box with 5 frames of bees including a queen) this spring rather than try to split this hive and make a second one from it. My primary reason is genetic diversification, meaning that this hive has been what we beekeepers call "a hot hive", (pissy, keen on stinging me, not friendly at all), and I would welcome some new genes in the bee yard.

On a business note, Beacon Bee Balm has been a huge success! All over Beacon (and beyond) folks are saying good-bye to their dry skin, chapped lips, damaged cuticles and cracked heels. Currently, I am making the Balm as a Moisturizing Stick, which is like a giant lip balm stick. It rubs on in an even and thin layer and seems to be quite popular.
This 3 ounce stick is $15.00 and comes in Lavender and Naturally Scented. I also have regular size lip balm sticks for $4.00, and 2 ounce jars in both Lavender and Naturally Scented Balm for $10.00.
Interested? Send me an email.
I have received many testimonials regarding the Propolis Tincture and I am currently SOLD OUT!