Thursday, August 22, 2013

One hive

Dan went out to check the bee hives.  Upon opening the newest hive, he found it empty!  Yes, empty!  Beside a few bees flying about there was nothing but an empty hive and empty frames.  No wax or honey on the frames at all.  "What do you mean it's empty?!" I said.

" let's not panic!" I say.
Searching the original hive, Dan found the second box (which name I can't figure out...honey? brood? It's really quite confusing.  As long as he's got it figured out....) to be very heavy!  Full of honey!  Between both hives, they had been eating about 20 pounds of sugar water every couple of days!
Dan decided that, due to the weight of the second box, it would be best to add a third and hopefully the bees will draw out more wax and honey up to that one.  With this decision, he thought it best to shut down the other empty hive.  Keeping it open and feeding it would only attract wasps, yellow jackets and other insects that are not welcome. 
The bees had decided to leave the newest hive, only using it for the food source, and blend themselves with the second hive on their own.  Originally, the plan would have us blending them gradually between newspaper within the hive.  For whatever reason, they did this on their own. 
This entire process has left us scratching our heads.  Did the bees know something about the original queen?  Was she sick?  Is this why they made a new queen?
"These darn (not the exact word used, ahem) bees have got me so totally confused!" says Dan.
I find myself, every so often, checking the blueberry bushes for another swarm.
They definitely keep us guess!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Change is in the air

I remember the feeling of 'nesting' when I was pregnant.  It amazes me that this feeling happens again during other life events.  For me, it happens with the change of seasons. 

The ending of summer vacation and beginning of school, the coolness of the mornings.  All these evoke a nesting feeling within me.  Baking new things.   Pots of soup.  Knitting.  Organizing the home.  Rearranging of furniture.  Amazing how change pulls your body into different directions. 

Don't get me wrong.  I do not want to see summer end.  Our long, lazy days.  Sun dresses, bare feet, sun kissed skin.  Dinner outside.  Lakes, oceans, sand, friends.....All into the late hours of the day.

With the end of one there is a beginning of another.

All we can do is roll with it.  Surrender to it and enjoy....

Friday, August 16, 2013

Right now....

Right now I'm....

*Baking a Peach Cobbler with just a fraction of the peaches we picked this week.

*Sipping coffee and enjoying the aroma of said cobbler in the oven

*Freezing peaches to enjoy in smoothies, cakes, jams and other yummies in the dead of winter....

*Watching busy bees flying too and from the hives at an excited rate of speed

*Wishing that there were just a few more weeks of summer vacation

*Sharing this deliciousness with you...

Peach Cobbler Recipe (Dairy Free)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a saucepan; combine and mix 4 cups of peeled, sliced peaches, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 10 min then remove from heat.

Put 8 tablespoons of Earth's Balance butter into a deep baking dish and place into oven to melt.

Slowly mix 1 1/2 cups self rising flour, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 cups of rice milk.

Pour mixture over melted butter (do not stir), spoon peaches on the top and gently pour in syrup.  Batter will rise to top during baking.

Bake for 35 - 45 minutes.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Now there are two....

If you remember from my last post we had quite an unexpected week.  Although a swarm is a natural occurrence, we were not prepared for it.

 After two days, Dan began the set transfer of the swarm from the temporary box to a permanent bee box.

He will continue to feed both hives with sugar water and a pollen patty; a cake of sugar, water and pollen.  Usually this is given to colonies in very early spring before abundant natural sources of pollen is available; but because the bees ate a significant amount of honey before swarming, we're adding this now to assistant in a good chance of survival over the winter.



We're hoping for the best.  We've noticed that the bees are eating quite a bit of the sugar water, so this is a good sign. 

"Busy little bees" they are!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Queen Bee Drama

  A sight for sure I didn't want to see, nor a phone call from me that my husband didn't want to hear: "It's the bees.  I think we have a problem!"

The bees have swarmed.  Meaning half of our hive left.  Left their hive with a new queen bee that they created and found 'residence' in our blueberry bush.  This is not a good situation.  A situation that would become tricky to resolve.

  After my account of the situation, Dan called in reinforcements.  We knew that we would need help from someone more experienced.  Luckily, there is a great support system of beekeepers and the president of the association said he'd be over!

Dan knew that there must have been a problem within the hive for this swarm to happen.  This is where Jeff could figure out what that problem was.

Jeff went through the hive, frame by frame and determined that the original queen was a great queen.  Laying fantastic eggs and producing many bees.  So many that the bees were running out of room in the hive.  Leading them to produce a new queen cell and following this new queen out of the hive.  You can not have more than one queen in a hive.

We all agreed that we wanted to keep the bees that fled the hive, if possible.  So Jeff and Dan set about the tricky task in trying to do this.  My next few picture are from a safe distance away as I was not suited up or protected other than a hooded sweatshirt!

The bees are sprayed with a sugar water solution prior to transferring into a temporary box.  We were fortunate to start this task late in the day when the bees are quiet.  Though it did lead to a long night.

After shaking the swarm off the bush, hand shoveling the bees into another box and when we knew the queen was in the box (you will know this by the trail of bees that voluntarily walk into the box, following the queen) we waited.  Waited for the bees to mostly be in the box before moving it safely into the garden.  Dan prepared food (sugar water solution) for both hives.

It was a job for the headlamp!
And now we wait.  Dan will need to get more supplies for this new hive.  But we will wait and see how this new queen reproduces; to see if she's a 'great queen' like the original.  Once we figure that out, we will choose the best queen to remain with the hive and blend both bees together.  This will be another process but one that is necessary.  Keep your fingers crossed!