Sunday, March 25, 2012

Springtime in the Bee Yard.

On March 17th, we completed a full inspection of our hives.  All is well, and with the mild weather, the bees are happy and working hard.  They are bringing in a lot of pollen, and some nectar too.  We reversed the 2 deep brood boxes, and added new screened bottom boards with an oil tray on each hive.  These replace the bottom boards from last year, which used a beetle trap that had to be serviced from the front of the hive.  Some days, the bees didn't care for that arrangement!  To remedy that, I designed and built a screened bottom board that uses a tray that can be serviced from the back of the hive.  This is much less interrupting to the hive, and makes things much easier on the bees, and us!  Below is a photo of the new Screened Bottom Board, and tray:
Any small hive beetles or mites that are dislodged from the bees and the frames will now fall thru the screen, and into the tray.  The tray contains vegetable oil, and it will trap and kill any pests that fall into it.  It's a great chemical-free pest management system, and should help us keep our bees and hive pest free.  So far, they are working great.

While inspecting the hives, we noticed that the queen has been working hard.  We found a lot of capped brood, and eggs and larva in various stages of development.  With the mild weather, the hives really got rolling early this year, and hopefully it will be a good year for bees and honey!

A brood box frame of capped brood, and the nurse bees looking after them:
Below is the Queen of the hive, in all her splendor!  She is right in the middle of the frame, with her attendants surrounding her.  Pretty girl!
The hives will need to be monitored closely this spring, due to everything blooming so early.  The nectar flow is starting, and honey supers will have to at the ready because they will probably fill them with honey very quickly.  Swarming may also be an issue early on, due to the fast buildup of the hive population.  Mild winter weather is both a blessing and a curse to the beekeeper.  The next month or two should be interesting, and challenging too!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ready for Honey and more bees!

After considering the purchase of an Extractor to harvest our honey this year, it just so happened that a friend at work is a beekeeper.  He had purchased some very nice equipment a few years ago, and has since downsized his Apiary.  He offered us a deal on the excess equipment he had stored, and we jumped at the chance to acquire some very nice things.  This equipment will enable us to grow our Apiary, and harvest our honey using top of the line gear.  We now have many new hive boxes, honey supers, and other assorted hive essentials, thanks to this generous offer from a friend. 

The most exciting part of this purchase was a beautiful 20 Frame Dadant Powered Extractor.  All stainless steel construction, with a top of the line Baldor Motor and Baldor Variable Frequency Drive.  This thing should do the job beautifully, and last a lifetime!   Isn't she a beauty?
A shot of the interior of the extractor.  Just like new, and very well cared for.
We also have a bottling tank, that is also in like-new condition.  This unit has a water jacket, that is heated and warms the honey for bottling.  We can't wait to use it!
This is not a very good picture, but you can see the mountain of equipment we brought home.  It filled a 12' enclosed trailer to the brim, along with the bed of our pickup truck.  LOTS of very nice equipment.  Some we will keep, and some we will offer to other beekeepers for a very good price.  It's always nice to share!
Today, we will be visiting the hives and giving them the once-over, in preparation for their spring build up.  I hope to have many pictures to share in a new post this weekend.  It seems that Spring has sprung here in the Midwest..........and it's beekeeping time once again!