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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Taking A Peek

I decided to check on the progress of my honey supers and see how the bees were coming along.  
It's been pretty hot and dry here lately, although the month of July finished up only less than 1/3" less than normal for precipitation.  Both hives had a fair amount of activity on the outside of the hives and plenty of 'first flights' could be seen.

Genesis:  Looking underneath the lid on this hive I was a little disappointed to see that the bees hadn't really touched the second super yet.  The first super was still about 80%  complete.  I was really excited to see the amount of propolis that the bees had managed to set into this hive.  Amazingly, the new woodenware I had for the past few months now has a beautiful reddish tint to it.  I managed to scrape some off and actually tried eating it.  Tasteless!  

A look deeper into the hive revealed massive amounts of honey and capped brood.  Fewer eggs, but I did see them.  I'd estimate that each frame weighs at least 8 lbs.  I didn't explore down into the lower brood chamber and I'm told, it's not necessary. 

Exodus:  The bees are just now working on this honey super.  As has been the case for the entire season, this hive seems to be about a week behind Genesis.  As usual, the Exodus bees were a little more aggressive and were bumping my veil during my inspection.  The reddish propolis stain was everywhere and the top brood chamber was filled with honey, capped brood, eggs, and bees.  I saw a bee emerging from its cell and watched as it chewed its way out, that was a first for me.

I did have to pull some weeds and grass that were obstructing the hives a bit, but other than that, no other maintenance issues.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

15 Minutes of Fame

Well, it happened.  Finally...

I've been waiting for the Cincinnati Magazine article to come out.  It finally did.  Larry Nager, the author, contacted me about two months ago and inquired about my beekeeping website and asked to interview me about my beekeeping experience.  

He wrote a great article on local beekeeping, complete with a cast of characters that I personally know from around here.  

As the article states, it's been a good year here and I'm off to do a check of the hives.  I may even have the supers filled by now.

Here's a link to the article:

Friday, July 25, 2008

An On a Personal Note

Today we welcome our baby boy and baby girl into the world.  Both babies are doing well and so is mama.  

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! (Psalm 100)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A New Solar Wax Melter

Over the past few months, my bees have built comb in unusual shapes and in spaces where I don't want them to build.  During each inspection, I've made it a habit to remove this 'burr comb' and keep it.  Initially, I didn't know what I was going to do with it.  I kept it in a sealed, plastic container.  Keep in mind, some of this comb has eggs, larvae, and pupae in it, so it can get quite rank after a few days.

So, after researching my options on what to do with all of this stuff, which I did not want to waste, I decided to build a solar wax melter.  I found some very simple plans for a small, cheap, and easy to use wax melter.  Materials include a cooler, a piece of glass, a container with water, a paper towel, and a rubber band.  

The premise of this contraption is that the sun will heat the air and comb, the wax will drain through the paper towel, and the water will keep the wax from sticking to the bottom container.

I also consulted two trusted advisors (one my dad, a chemist, and the other my boss, an engineer).  I believe that the thermal value is most efficient with one simple piece of glass.  I did have doubts about the paper towel holding up, as did the engineer I consulted, but after three successful melts, it does not tear and holds up fine.

Bees wax melts at about 145' F and so at the end of the day you end up with burnt, nasty blobs of bee goo and in the bottom container, there floating on the water is beautiful filtered bees wax.

You can find plans to make your own here.  Total cost was under $6.00.  They retail for over $300.  Of course, these are wooden and have metal drip pans.  Mine works just as well, just on a smaller scale.

Tracking Bees

This evening, while sitting outside on the back patio, I saw some honeybees giving my hummingbird feeder a good workover.  Several bees were lapping up the sweet red sugar water and returning to their hive (somewhere east) via flying in between my and my neighbors house.  

I decided to try a little experiment and doused the bees with powdered sugar.  I wanted to see if the same bees were returning to the feeder.  Sure enough, I saw the same bees coming back, time and time again.  

The kids thought this was pretty cool.  So did I.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Adding Second Super

Date: July 10, 2008
Time: 2:30 PM
Weather: Mid 80's, No Wind

I added the second super to Genesis today.  Not much else is happening.  I'm still working on finding a way to build my own hives.