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Archive for June, 2011

Feeding the Bees

As the nectar flow slows down we go into a time of the season called the Nectar Dearth.  Trees, flowers, shrubery, etc have finished blooming and offer the bees no more nectar or pollen.  An existing colony can usually handle the dearth because they have built up stored honey and pollen.  New colonies such as hived swarms and colonies from package orders might not have enough to eat.  This is when the beekeeper can step in to give a little help.  We have 4 hives that will need a little help this year.  3 were swarms and 1 is a split from my original hive.  I have mixed up some sugar syrup using a 1:1 sugar to water mixture.  An easy way to feed a colony is to use a gallon size zipper bag which is placed on top of the frames.  You need to use a spacer so as to give adequate room for the baggie with syrup.  When filling bag, fill to 3/4 full and gently press excess air out before sealing.  Place bag on top of frames taking care to not smash any bees.  Then you take a razor or very sharp knife and make a single slice in middle of bag approximately 2 inches long.  The bees will feed through the slit and there will be little drowning if any.  This also discourages robbing from other bees as the feed is enclosed inside the hive.  You can also add a pollen patty for added nutrition.

Below is an empty baggie and a partially eaten pollen patty.

Below I have placed a spacer on the hive and then put a baggie with sugar syrup on the top bars.  The girls will be crawling up soon.

Make a small slit with a razor so the bees can sip the syrup without drowning.

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Honey Time!

Well it’s finally here. We pulled a little honey off my original hive. I thought they had two supers completely capped but only took off 8 medium frames. The other we will leave for a couple of weeks. I used a fume board to make the bees leave the super. It did not work quite as well as everyone said it would. I ended up giving my smoker a squirt of the Bee Dun. When the residual bees got a puff of that almond flavored smoke, they decided to give up ownership of the frames. We had plans to use a hand crank extractor (borrowed from our local beekeepers association) but did not want to dirty it up for just a few frames. We lucked up on a “like new” double bucket system which has a fine mesh bag in the top followed by a metal sieve then a micro-sieve. The honey finally ends up in the bottom bucket which has a “gate” installed in the bottom for bottling. With some help from our daughter, we thoroughly crushed the wax with honey and placed it in the top bucket. Gravity and a little time works wonders.

 

Got into a couple of frames that had plastic foundation (which I do not like) so I had to scrape the honey/wax and then let the frames drain for a few minutes.  I then scraped that honey into the top bucket for straining.

 

 

Here is the hive we robbed.  I used a cardboard fume board saturated with Bee Dun.  It is a natural oil mixture that smells like almonds.  The bees hate it but it won’t hurt them or the honey.

Here is the final product! 

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