"Sweet" weekend

Discussion in 'The Village Square' started by marlingardener, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    What a way to spend December 1st! My husband and I took 16 frames of honey from our hives--just half the honey the bees had stored. We extracted it most of Saturday afternoon, and my husband was teasing me about being "cranky". We have a manual extractor which we crank and the centrifugal force extracts the honey from the frames. One can get pretty sticky spending an afternoon with honey!
    We have a large pot full of honey, and the comb is draining into another tub. We aren't sure, but it is likely we have about 75 lbs. of honey. Later this week we'll be bottling--another sticky job (but we lick our fingers a lot!).
     
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  3. Donna S

    Donna S Hardy Maple

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    Thats a lot of honey.
     
  4. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    Awesome harvest. This must be one of the hardest, for the reward of the "produce", at the end of the season. Not only is is sticky, it is sting-y if you squish a bee, it is also back breaking, hunched over for hours uncapping the frames.
     
  5. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    Carolyn, it sounds as if you have been there, done that!
    No squished bees-it's my job to gently brush them off the frames, and make sure they are all away from the rims when the lids go back on the hives.
     



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  6. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    75 pounds of honey??? wowie! What are you going to do with it all?
     
  7. waretrop

    waretrop Strong Ash Plants Contributor

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    marlingardener, Wow, That is wonderful. I thought bees were dying off recently. Do you treat them extra special for them to be so nice to you?
     
  8. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    Cheryl, we give 1 lb. jars to friends and neighbors; use a bit of it ourselves; and sell the rest. You wouldn't believe the demand for "local" honey! We have a list of preferred customers who get first chance at our honey.
    Barbara, yes, we do treat our bees very well. During last year's drought, we fed them sugar syrup and made sure they had a water source. We also have skunk deterrent rolls of chicken wire in front of the hive entrances (skunks will eat bees) and have robber barriers up so "outside" bees don't rob the hives' honey. Occasionally I serenade them with a selection of Italian folk songs, since they are Italian bees! We have three hives now, and hope to be able to split two of them next spring.
     
  9. waretrop

    waretrop Strong Ash Plants Contributor

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    Oh, Barbara likes to hear about all the nice things you do for your bees. I do extreme things with all my creatures too.

    Who would have ever thought that skunks were harmful to bees?????
     
  10. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    Jane,
    I have been there and done that. It is a rewarding job. We got 120#'s this year and I left one super on a hive since it had larvae still in it when I was pulling the supers and the weather turned and I just lost the time frame to get it pulled and extracted. My friend Bill, who lives a few miles down the road, has a very nice extractor set up. He got the extractor for nothing. It is a stainless steel 20 frame motorized machine from the OARDC in Wooster, Oh. They were going to throw it away because they had no place to store it. :eek: His friend called him from there and told him about it...needless to say Bill didn't pass it up. He is an electrical engineer by trade(retired) and has engineered all things convenient for extracting. He is a major tinkerer and I help him pull his honey and then extract mine after he is done doing his. I would much rather spend the time helping Bill then being bent over my pathetic set up for extracting. That is hard and tedious, not to mention sticky everywhere.


    Barb, The skunks are very willing to eat as many bees everynight as they can. this makes the hive occupants very touchy. It decimates the bee population in just a few visits. They will fly out of the hive and buzz/sting you just for walking too close to their territory. Usually they don't mark their territory out unless they are forced to protect it. I can mow right by the hives and they just fly around me as I pass in front of them as long as the skunks aren't bothering them.
     
  11. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

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    I looked at the honey in the grocery store aisle and tried to imagine 75 lbs. Wow!! That is a lot of work by the bees, and a lot of sticky work harvesting the honey. I did not know skunks had the tenacity to raid a hive of bees.

    Jerry
     
  12. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    To all of you beekeepers.... y'all rock!
    :sete_036:
    I'm far too scared of being stung to even attempt this.
     
  13. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    With the rolls of chicken wire in front of the entrance the skunk has to stand on his hind legs to get at the bees, exposing his tender stomach, which the bees sting. Skunks soon get the idea and leave!

    Our plan is to increase the number of hives when my husband retires. We have offers from farmers in the county to shelter hives on their farms--no strings attached like rent or a share of the honey.
    If we get more honey, my husband has figured out how to attach a motor so we won't be hand-cranking the extractor.

    We seem to be the only beekeepers in the county. There used to be more, but age overtook them. Lifting supers can be pretty strenuous.

    Cheryl, our bees are very calm. I too mow right around the hives while the ladies are coming and going, with no problem. When I'm working in the garden I'm careful not to put my hand on a bee, but if I do, I still don't get stung. Just moving slowly (comes naturally to me!) prevents bee bites.
     
  14. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    Jerry, a bee makes 1/2 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime and her life span in the summer is 6 weeks. She wears out her wings flying and then the hive bees kick her out if she can't keep working. Then, unfortunately, she dies from exposure or is preyed on by another insect eater.

    Toads are hard on a hive, too. I keep them away from my hives as much as I can. They will suck down an enormous number of bees leaving or entering the hive.
     
  15. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    Bees keeping ... that was what I wanted to do about 30 years ago. I was inspired by my cousin who kept bees as a hobby and the fact that bees are very gentle if not provoked. I built my bee box, placed it under a tree and rub some honey on it hoping to attract to attract some bees that had a new home on their list.

    After a couple of weeks there were still no takers except for some ants, I decided to to some real hard selling and went to look for bees to force them to have a look at the piece of real estate which I build for them. I got stung and found out I am allergic to bee's sting. Had to be sent to the nearby clinic to get a shot and I was strongly advised to stay away from bees especially lots of bees.

    Now we are buying honey for our daily need from a honey collector who collects wild honey. According to him bees normally do not change hives unless it is destroyed or the enviroment is no longer conducive for them to stay. He said he had several hives that he had been harvesting the honey for years. According to my cousin, there must be a hive nearby before it can get occupied and it may take months. I guess I was impatient.

    I am still very curious how do you get the bees to come and stay in your box?
     
  16. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    KK, we buy bees--actually what is called a "nuc" which is a queen and a handful of workers. This builds up to a full hive quickly.
    We also collect swarms. Swarming bees are very gentle--they are concentrating on finding a new home and you can literally sweep them into a box with your bare hands. A swarm is excess bees from a hive--they don't all abandon an existing hive.
    Since we are the only beekeepers around, we get a lot of calls about swarms. One guy said bees were swarming in a tree and when we got there, the "bees" were yellow jackets! We also got called to a "swarm" that was about 20 bees feeding on honeysuckle. Now we have an up-front charge for coming, whether or not there are bees!
     
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