Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bee update

The general consensus in north central WI was that it was a bad season for bees/honey. Too much rain, too humid. John and Sheri, from Honey Glow Farm in WI have been a great help. They are both great in that they will take the time to answer any questions and try to help as much as possible. A couple items they relayed on to me is that when it rains too much, the nectar and pollen is washed from the blossoms, so no honey flow. When perplexed what to do about harvesting uncapped combs, John took the time to explain in a very logical way how to handle the problem. Of course, the final decision is up to the individual, as they aren't "on site" to see my hives, but based on their experience, I was able to make decisions which I felt very comfortable with.
Sheri has convinced me to winter my 3 hives, so that will be a great experience.
I had to harvest all my honey and get the meds in place for wintering in 4 days before we went on vacation for 2 weeks....something I was not prepared to do. Sheri and John, along with the book "Beekeeping for Dummies" walked me through the process. After a couple late night (2-3AM) extracting and bottling sessions, I was able to medicate the bees the morning before we left.
We ended up harvesting 250-300 lbs of honey from 3 hives, one of which was messed up and I actually thought the queen had died and it was in decline. Again, after describing the situation to Sheri she correctly surmised that they weren't passing through the queen excluder and there might be a ton of honey in the top box of the brood chamber....and there was!!
So, all in all, I feel really good about my foray back into beekeeping after 20 years. Way back then, the Dad of my good childhood friend got me started in beekeeping and his teachings and wisdom was the basis of my interest, enjoyment and success this summer.

The bees spent a lot of time outside the hives. My assumption was becasue of the heat and humidity?

 Pulling in pollen and nectar.

Thanks to John and Sheri, I now know how to help the bees get through the excluder, middle hive issue.
 Capped comb.

The start.
 Hive on right has honey extracted, the best way to clean up is let the bees to it.
Grandson Jason standing in front of our honey pot, 24 gallons total or so, who was great as he played for 2 hours in the yard while I pulled all the remaining honey supers from the 3 hives.

The only item I saved from 20 years ago, the 4 frame extractor. What a great time saver.

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