Friday, November 23, 2007

Projects for this winter

My bees might be done working outside the hive for the Winter, but I have a laundry list of beekeeping chores that need to be completed for this coming season. First, I am hoping for a good honey crop this year so I need to line up bottles and honey processing equipment. I came upon some used equipment, including the pictured honey extractor, that I want to rebuild for next season's harvest. It works well enough, but since it is an older galvanized model (unlike the newer stainless steel models) I want to paint with a product called Cambridge Coatings, which is a food use-approved clear coating that makes it easy to clean. Additionally, I want to build a stand to affix the extractor to, which will allow the hone to drain directly into a bucket that can be used to bottle the honey. Some other honey processing toys that I came across is a hot knife to cut the wax cappings off the frames, and a bunch of bee escapes that can be used to evacuate bees from the honey supers when harvesting. I also have some other extractors, but the one pictured is the one I will likely use. I still need to get a fume board and some cool bottles to put the honey in.

I also want to get a second hive ready just in case I come across any swarms, be they from my hive or anyone else's. And of course, there are plenty of beekeeping books to read this Winter.

Wintertime and the livin's easy...

My hive is buttoned up and ready for winter. I am wintering in two deeps and medium. I estimate that there is over 100 pounds of sugar syrup and honey in there, so starvation is not a concern of mine. The medium super, which uses the Pierco plastic frames, is all sugar syrup and honey, whereas the two deep boxes contain both brood and honey. I noticed that a few first year beekeepers entered honey in the local fair this year, so I will be curious to see if their bees will have enough food stored to survive the winter. I don't see how it is possible that you could have no bees in April (most folks in my area received their nucs and packages of bees in May this year) and have extracted honey the first week of August without seriously compromising the chances of your bees successfully surviving the winter. I guess we'll see how things shake out this Spring.

I switched the original mouse guard that I made for another one that I made out of 1/4 inch hardware cloth. This new mouse guard allows more airflow, which is important in cold weather so that the condensation produced by the cluster can escape the hive so that the bees are not encased in a block of ice. The new mouse guard also allows more bees to enter and exit when the temperature is over 55 degrees. The previous mouse guard that I made was acting too much like an entrance reducer for my taste.

Speaking of taste, I can taste this Spring's honey crop already...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Scales: Part 2

I stumbled across a second scale that I can use to park a hive on. This scale (the light blue one) is a 1,000 pound model, unlike my other scale which has a maximum capacity of 500 pounds. I would surprised if even the strongest hive weighs over 300 pounds, even when stacked with full honey supers.

I completely disassembled, wire brushed, primed with rust inhibitor paint, and then reassembled and painted each scale. I also turned the direction of the needle balance, primarily because I prefer the counter weight holder to be toward the rear of the scale. It was a fun process to restore these scales. Each one is over 50 years old, and they are surprisingly accurate.

Friday, November 9, 2007

At least they aren't named Pat...

An interesting op/ed piece in the New York Times about the inaccuracies in Bee Movie. Of course, everybody knows that Bee Movie is not a documentary (the bees have opposable thumbs and talk, for goodness sakes) but the fact that many worker bees are portrayed as male is unnecessarily inaccurate, and had upset some purists. Here is my favorite part:

If Mr. Seinfeld wanted realism (and an R rating), his male bees would be sex workers who do little more than mate with the queen — after which their genitals snap off. Worse: when winter comes, worker bees shove the freeloading males out into the cold. If drones are required in the spring, the queen will simply make more of them.

Life is tough!