Friday, December 28, 2007

Wintertime bee update

Basically, the bees are tucked in for the winter and doing fine. I added a windbreak since the winds were getting a little violent at times. Ideally, it would have been nice to find a spot to park the hive that had natural windbreak of bushes or even a building, but I had no such space available.
Sometimes I pull the cover off the top of the hive and peek down through the hole in the inner cover to see the bees clustered. Everyone seems to be doing just fine in there.

The Eye of the Bee(r) holder

This post has nothing to do with bees, but anyone who is interested in bees may also be interested in this. Since I had a few days off of work, I figured I'd brew up a batch of beer. The ingredients were purchased from Maryland Homebrew. They had a decent selection of kits with all the ingredients to brew up a batch of whatever your tastes desire. Below is a pic of my custom made brewing oven. The pot can be slid along the angle iron to control the temperature of the brew. Coffee can also be kept warm, as demonstrated in this pic. It looks a little hillbilly, I know, but it was a lot of fun to build and use. We'll see how the finished product turns out.

Update: The beer (or pre-beer substance) is fermenting like crazy. The fermentation process produces alcohol and CO2, and the CO2 must be released without air touching the brew. Hence, there is a fermentation lock on top of the fermentation unit, which basically functions in the same manner as the water trap on a sink or a toilet bowl. Bubbles come up through the water in the fermentation lock which lets me know things are going well. This will continue for about a week, at which point the brew will be siphoned off into a bottling bucket and dextrose sugar will be added. The beer will then be bottled. The dextrose sugar will be consumed by the remaining yeast, which will produce carbonation in the beer, a process that takes about a week. If the fermentation process is too strong, CO2 will build up and the bottles will explode.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Swarm collection box

Today I converted the cardboard box that my nuc came in into a swarm collection box. I put a frame with foundation in the middle to give the swarm something to crawl around on, and on the top of the box I added four bee escapes, which are basically one-way valves for bees. Bees can go in the box, but they cannot get back out. In theory, I can shake a swarm into the box and put the lid on it. Any bees from the swarm that did not go in the box immediately will eventually go in through the bee escapes, so long as the queen is in the box. I reinforced everything with duct tape, which makes the box more durable and water resistant.

This box is lightweight and is a good thing to put in the car in case you come across a swarm in your travels. I can also store swarm collection tools in the box, such as a bottle of Jim Beam and some Benadryl. Just kidding. Mostly.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I'll be sure to remember the little people...

Holy cow. Can you believe there are people that actually read this blog? I received "honorable mention" from Bee Culture magazine in an article about bee-related blogs. I am humbled and flattered that the folks at Bee Culture considered my blog for this article. Flattery gets you everywhere with me!