Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2 eight hour days in hives + my new bees again!

I spent the last 2 days working all day with Larry and Janice Tate on grafting, shaking bees, making nucs, making mating nucs, moving hives, moving queen cells, making splits and doing a lot of labor intensive work.

It has paid off in the Tates paying me with bees. I now have my second set that are on the back porch! They are the half sisters to the ones I already had. Talk about your calm bees. No smoke or gloves needed! They are awesome bees. We will be grafting from them to get queens and selecting drones for Instrumental Insemination on other future queens. We do NOT want to lose these lines, as all you need is a veil to work them (keep the random bee from flying into your hair or face).

They were a little low in numbers, so we took some of his mating nuc bees that had been queenless for 24 hours and I am adding them with the news paper method. You take the bees you want to add and place them over a newspaper sheet wetted with sugar water and a few small slits in it and close them in completley. They get aclimated to the new queen and the new bees as they slowly chew through the news paper. They will remove most of it in a few days.

I need to seal the copper top on that hive with urethane sealant after I clean it as I want this one to remain copper. No oxidation or paint on this one.

I will have pics soon.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

good inspection

I had a good inspection today. The queen is laying as fast as they can make new cells. The workers are extremely calm and I didn’t have to even break out the smoker. They still have about 2.5 frames to draw and I will probably add a brood chamber the middle of next week.

I found the queen on the second frame. She likes to scoot pretty fast when you expose her to light.

I am concerned at how calm they all are. It does make it a little difficult to work them. They crawl all over my hands to the point it is hard to not squish a few. And when I put the top feeder on, the inner cover or the spacer for the patty, I seem to kill about 5 for each item because they are all on the rim and my hands checking things out and telling me hello.

I am 100% sure I could inspect them without gloves and be just fine. No head butts, no angry bees buzzing around. Good genetics.

Friday, March 26, 2010

class and inspection

Saturday (tomorrow) is the last class of the Forsyth County Beekeeping lectures. We have a practical test and paper test in 2 weeks. I am not worried in the least.

I am going to have to duck out a tad early tomorrow, since class runs about 1 hour long. I will do a full inspection around lunch and I will try to get some pictures. It will be short, sweet and to the point. I have to fly at 2:00 for a helicopter egg drop where I am flying the helicopter in to drop easter eggs over a field for children to hunt.

I can tell by the amount of wax scales I have seen on the IPM mite board that they are just about done with the last empty frame. There are a ton of scales on the board under that outer most frame. I am betting I get to add a super and move some brood around tomorrow!

I am going to head to bed now. I will post pics and an update tomorrow, post inspection and class.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CNG Certified!

It is official. I have my Certified Naturally Grown certification. All I have to do is follow the standards and have 2 other beekeepers inspect my apiaries each year. I am hoping I can get someone this Saturday (you know who you are!).

This allows me to get a little more for my honey and gives me a very nice presentation option if I sell at Farmers Markets or stores as I can add a really nice CNG lable to the containers. It also encourages me to keep everything IPM (integrated pest management) and chemical free.

I just realized I can get some great shots of the hive from some cool angles due to the fact that it is on my porch.

This is some truly urban beekeeping!!!

I have the boardman and top feeder on to ensure they have plenty of syrup at whatever consistancy they want. The boardman has 2:1, the hive top has 1:1 and almost 3:1

I need them to draw as much comb as they can as fast as possible.

I can also peer into the hive without ever getting into their flight path. They fly up and over the railing instead of through it. Because of this, I can get right up in front without even a beesuit!

Monday, March 22, 2010

I have BEES!!!

Lets starts with the bad news I was telling you about. Saturday, I spoke with the guy who I had my $50 deposit with for my two nucs. Each time I have talked with him over the course of the past few weeks his date of delivery for my 2, 5 frame nucs keeps getting pushed back and pushed back... So this got me worried. Well, he has now told me he is giving a bunch of peoples deposits back and some people will not get their nucs until almost June!!!!!! This means you will have to feed all year to keep them alive this winter. 

When I went over to Larry Tates Apiary to assist in grafting and some general work and I told him about it. He said “Well, I have a Carniolian that is about to swarm if I don’t do something soon. You want some today?” YES!!!!!

We went over to the other out yard and boy was he right. They were full up to the top in 2 deeps and a shallow with no where to lay. We found the queen and she is HUGE! I don’t have a pic of her because it was about to rain, all of the bees were upset in that yard and we wanted to get in and out fast. The queen is a beautiful dark red and she is about 1.25” long! She is one of the biggest I have seen. Larry then gave that frame to me and said stick her down in that nuc and take her home. “I just expect you to catch some drones from her for II and let me graft a few times.”

At this point it started raining. We then shook some bees out of the old hive into the nuc to get them going (since I didn’t have much drawn comb).

I then took them home in a medium with 2 moving screens securley strapped down. I got them in... no need for smoke or squirt bottles.... Just took off the bottom screen, shook them off the empty frames, exchanged them with ones with foundation, put on hive top feeder, put 3 cups sugar to 6 cups water (1:2 which I think is a little more natural) with some honey bee healthy on one side. The other I put a pollen patty and some powdered substitute. I am gonna peek this afternoon and see if they are into the food. They were MUCH more calm than when we were trying to get them in. I put the entrance reducer on as well. When I put the pollen in last night they were all peeking up through the top of the feeder on its inner rim.

The rain knocked off a bunch of maple tree blooms all over the porch do to the winds and rain. I cleared their enterance with a stick and got greeted by a long row of guard girls who checked everythign out.

So, I am canceling one nuc I ordered. I have swarm traps out near the airport where I work. I did this because for the last 2 years there have been swarms that land on parked airplanes. If I catch one, I will have my 2 hives. I will cancel the other nuc too.

I am trying to talk Mark of Marks Bee Haven to come saturday and check it all out. If I have the extra set of hands during the inspection, I will get some pics.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Major update tomorrow

I will have a MAJOR UPDATE tomorrow with some bad news and some really great news!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

more mead

In cleaning out the freezer, I found a ton of fresh frozen unsweetened strawberries that were begging to be made into mead. I had the leftover chocolate too! So my brain got to thinking..... what would it take to turn this into something fantastic?

I went and got 2- 3 gallon carbouys and airlocks, sanitized everything and started in on the next and final batch of mead for a while....

Chocolate vanilla strawberry mead

3 gallon carbouy filled to just under top line
1/2 cup Nestle Quick milk powder 25% reduced sugar
4 tbsp Hershey’s chocolate syrup
1 vanilla bean cut lengthwise and in half
2.5 tsp Fermax
9 lbs honey
4.5 lbs frozen strawberries
3/4 cup wyeast sweet mead yeast and d-47

secondary added 2lbs frozen strawberries and pectin enzyme

Vanilla strawberry mead

3 gallon carbouy filled to just under top line
1 vanilla bean cut lengthwise and in half
2.5 tsp Fermax
9 lbs honey
6.5 lbs frozen strawberries
3/4 cup wyeast sweet mead yeast and d-47

secondary added 2 lbs frozen strawberries and pectin enzyme

I am still going to have to invest in a bunch of small wine bottles, corks and a corker.....
I will get some pictures of those soon. I can tell you, if these get started right and not contaminated, they will be awesome!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mead update

Well, the nice chocolate orange smell is gone and it is now replaced by a sulfur, rotten egg smell coming from the chocolate mead.... It is pooting away about 1 Silent But Deadly per second. Apparently d-47 yeast makes Sulfur Dioxide as a by-product.... Defiantly keep this one well far away from living space.

The chocolate still smells nice fro the airlock. It got so excited the last few days that it bubbled up into the airlock. If it gets clogged, I will have to pull it off and clean it. I don’t want to risk losing the mead to oxygen or bacteria, so I hope it stays clear.

2 months to go before I rack both into new carbouys. Then 1 more month before I bottle... And a year until it is ready. I am going to add a mead countdown clock on the right if I can find a good one.

Friday, March 12, 2010

mead update

I might have used too much yeast in the Ancient Orange to get it going.... It is foaming and bubbling like crazy! I am a bit concerned that it might bubble up through the airlock because I left about 7" to the airlock, and it is half way there with bubbles on day one..... Here is a pic of the Orange:

I would post a picture of the chocolate mead, but it looks a bit like it sounds, chocolatey bubbling slurry.

Both have about 1.5 burbles per second out of the airlock, and the closet smells like chocolate/oranges/christmas spice.... Man, these will be good around christmas....

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Okay, it is official... I am insane.

For christmas I got a Mr. Beer home brew kit and have made some really good beers.... A West Coast Pale Ale that is light and citrusy and a High Country Canadian Draft which is mellow and nice.

This got me thinking about mead.... I have always been a little curious about it and I do make my own strawberry vodka, peach vodka and blueberry vodka....

Today I got the urge to make mead bad enough I went to the local brewery supply store and bought 2- 6 gallon carbouys, and all of the equipment to make, rack, ferment and store mead....

I ended up making these two recipes:

Joes Ancient Orange Cinnamon Clove Mead

Filled 6 gallon carbouy to just under top line

3 ½ gallons water
2 large naval oranges cut into 16ths then halfs
3 medium/small naval oranges cut the same
3 pinches nutmeg
5 cinnomon sticks
4 cloves
18 lbs clover honey (1.5 gallons)
½ cup loosely packed Sunkist raisins
2 packets fleschmans baking yeast (4.5 oz)
2 tsp Fermax nutrient

Chocolate Mead

Filled 6 gallon carbouy just under top line

8.2 oz Nestley quick milk mix 25% reduced sugar
8 oz Hershey’s chocolate syrup
18 lbs clover honey (1.5 gallons)
3.5 tsp acid blend
5 tsp Fermax nutrient
1 pack D-47 yeast

The chocolate mead is my own variation of the Lady Bridget version here: and a few other recipes....
The biggest issue with the chocolate meads is that they take 1-2 years to be mellow and good and not bitter from the cocoa.... so just like a wine, I will have no clue if it is good for a LONG, LONG time.... They also call for back sweetning where you add honey or sugar after fermentation, I used a yeast that stops fermenting at around 13% ABV, so there should be plenty of honey left....