Sunday, November 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Well, I did it! This year, thanks to the bees, I took 2nd place for a full frame of honey and 3rd place for a 1lb jar of white extracted honey. I've recieved beautiful red and white ribbons to show for the effort, five dollars total prize money, and more importantly, I learned about the judging and correct display of honey and frames of honey. This will certainly be a topic of a future episode of The Beekeeping Podcast.
Congratulations to my beekeeping mentor, Susie, who took 1st place in both the same categories I entered. That's really the way it should be, for as it is wisely written, "The disciple is not above his master..." (Luke 6:40).
I'm already looking forward to next years competition.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Today was honey harvest day. Perhaps the best day of a beekeeper's season. A close second would be the first spring inspection where live bees are found inside a hive. But, I digress.
Today I went out to harvest the honey from Genesis and Exodus so I would have some honey to show at the local fair next week. More about the harvest in the next post, but a quick hive update.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Weather: Hazy, clouding up with scattered storms, no wind
In one of my previous podcast episodes, I talked about the importance and effectiveness of simply observing your bees. Today, I employed that technique. Instead of smoking my bees, opening up the hive, and disturbing the work that the bees were doing, I just stayed a few feet back from the hive and observed the bees coming and going. Most beekeepers will tell you that it sets the bees back a day or two of production when you open the hive. Well, I don't know if that's true or not, but I don't like to open up the hive, or disturb it more than I have to.
Genesis:A beekeeping mentor of mine told me that if the bees are bringing in pollen that there are baby bees being born in the hive. There were also lots of bees coming and going. And, as an added bonus, I saw 'washboarding' bees. For those of you who have never seen it, it's either a lone bee, or a group of them, steadily rocking back and forth in rhythm. I haven't found a good explanation, but it's sure interesting to watch. (They are lined up above the mouse guard on the left side of the picture below)
Exodus:This hive had more activity going on as well. I saw some orientation flights and lots of bees coming and going.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Open to the World HONEY - SECTION 402
(Honey is entered in the Vegetable & Crops Bldg. on Monday)
ALL HONEY TO BE EXHIBITED IN GLASS CONTAINERS
No Class 1st ($5)2nd ($3)3rd ($2)
001 White Extracted Honey 1 lb.
002 Light Amber Extracted Honey 1 lb.
003 Amber Extracted Honey 1 lb.
004 Dark Amber Extracted Honey 1 lb.
005 Chuck Honey 1 lb.
006 Chuck Honey 2½ lb.
007 Frame of Honey, shallow or medium, any color
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
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Here is a copy of my e-mail to him and below, his response (posted with permission).
I'm a second-year beekeeper here in BooneCounty, Northern Kentucky. You may not remember me, but you helped me deal with a Varroa problem this past summer. Thank you.
I'm not what I would call a 'typical' beekeeper and find myself reading numerous resources, including web forums, blogs, books, magazines, and papers on beekeeping. One question, or thought, that continues to perplex me is the idea of winter losses of hives.
Let me explain...
As a beekeeper, I can certainly appreciate that honeybees are susceptible to various diseases and pests, similar to every other domesticated species. I can also appreciate that honeybee biology is very complex and their systems have the potential to be exponentially effected by diseases, pests, pesticides, and other factors due to the way in which they live (i.e. crowded conditions, reproductive cycles, division of labor). However, if I was a rancher and experienced significant losses in my numbers or cattle, or, in this case, the number of hives surviving the winter, how is it that, or why is it, that beekeepers seem to accept significant losses in their numbers and yet, seemingly continue to keep bees in the same manner in which they were lost? One example I recently heard was that a local beekeeper who looses his bees in the winter reasons that "the strong will survive and those that don't, oh well". I find this reasoning to be disturbing. In thinking about this issue, I thought about who I could contact for an academic and educated opinion about the matter. I can only imagine the following...
One, that there are a lot of bad beekeepers. Perhaps they don't manage, or mismanage, their colonies well by providing health treatments, poor location of their hives, not enough supplemental feeding, not monitoring the strength of hive numbers (perhaps having been depleted by swarming), neglect, or some other factor.
Two, that those things that are effecting the bees are so powerful that accepting winter losses is the new paradigm. I know that several older books that I've seen mention dwindling, but certainly not to the degree that it is talked about and mentioned today. How did beekeeping survive to this day?
Three, that the 'way' in which we keep bees has drifted so far from good management practiced by the early pioneers of beekeeping, even going so far back as the earliest records (medieval or earlier). Did early beekeepers have 'acceptable losses' as well? Perhaps using smaller hives, more natural treatments, natural attrition, allowing swarming, etc.
Four, some combination of the above. i certainly hope that I've explained my questions well enough. As a new beekeeper, I certainly want to establish good beekeeping habits by being informed, practicing solid management, and being proactive rather than reactive. That being said, I hope you can shed some light on my question/thoughts.
By the way, I checked my two hives of Italians the other day and they were alive and well.
And, here is his response...
Your thoughts are very well reasoned and bear on much of what is happening in beekeeping. In general, the second point you list is probably the most important in winter losses.
Most of us are struggling with pathogens and parasites that are relatively new to the US. The center stage is occupied by the varroa mite. It is bad enough by itself, but it also seems to make pathogens like Nosema disease worse. The newly discovered Nosema ceranae has become quite widely distributed across the US. We have much to learn about it. I have heard some very alarming reports, mostly from large-scale commercial beekeepers, about enormous colony losses which are probably caused by Nosema ceranae and perhaps other factors. Most difficult are the viruses, which can be detected only by sophisticated techniques. They can be controlled mainly by keeping varroa mite levels low. There are 19 known honey bee viruses, and probably more that are to be discovered.
Your first and third points are significant. Some beekeepers are not managing their bees well. But there have always been bad beekeepers. In much of the country winter losses have become worse, and poor beekeeping cannot really explain this. The third point should be focused on commercial beekeeping activities and perhaps new pesticides that affect the behavior of the bees. The practice of hauling hives thousands of miles for crop pollination has almost certainly caused greater varroa and pathogen problems, both directly and indirectly.
However, many hobby beekeepers are like you: Taking good care of their bees and certainly not driving them across the country. My hunch is that many small scale beekeepers have some level of pathogen in their hives. All of us have varroa mites at some level. Possibly some hives are near pesticide-treated crops. If there is little large-scale farming within a 2 or 3 mile radius around your hives, you can probably rule this out. Tracheal mites and small hive beetles are a problem only for a minority of Kentucky beekeepers.
I have wanted for years to get a better understanding of winter losses. As you say, it's disturbing to see many beekeepers accept these losses. Often this happens with colonies that seemed to be healthy the previous fall.
A big part of the problem is in observing and understanding winter losses. We can't check our hives during winter. In our first spring inspection we might find a sad little cluster of dead bees or, more commonly, no bees at all. We can't do an autopsy without a corpse.
So my approach has been to find a way to monitor bee colony health during winter without disturbing the bees. Last Friday I met with a group of techno-whiz folks at UnivKy. They are designing a system which will allow me to monitor temperatures at many spots within the hive. When the bee cluster temperatures start to drop in a particular hive I will know they are in trouble. Then I can open the hive and collect the bees for examination before they disappear. Understanding the problem is the first step toward controlling it.
For beekeepers who have been over-wintering successfully I suggest: 1) Stay with your current management practices. 2) Keep varroa mites at low levels with screened bottom boards, varroa-resistant bees and "soft" chemicals like Apiguard, Apilife, Mite-away. 3) Avoid buying bees, as that could be a source of new pathogens. If you want to increase your number of hives, split what hives you have (typically in May or early June).
I hope this helps.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I wrote the following for the Boone County Recorder, printed Thursday, April 16, 2009.
Thank A Beekeeper
As the trees, shrubs, and flowers in our area awake from their winter slumber, take note of the emergence of another, less appreciated, but no less important, visitor to our gardens, the honeybee. Honeybees are emerging from a long, cold winter and are hungry for nectar and pollen. By now, you have no doubt heard of the plight of the honeybee in the United States and worldwide; disappearing bees, dying hives, and a laundry list of pest and diseases that threaten to wipe out honeybees everywhere. As scientists struggle to come up solutions, let alone reasons for the decline, one may ask, what can I do?
You can encourage honeybees to visit your garden by planting a small area for wildflowers and other plants that honeybees like to visit. Limit the use of pesticide applications, and by all means, if you see a swarm of honeybees this spring, call a local beekeeper, they will usually remove the honeybees for free! Finally, take the time to educate yourself, your children, and your neighbors on the benefits of having honeybees around, and, if you are interested, become a beekeeper yourself.
At the very least, thank a local beekeeper. After all, they are working (or their bees are) to put food on your table. The local fresh fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers market, grocery store, and get from your own backyard garden are the direct result of pollination by honeybees.
If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper here in Northern Kentucky, please visit the Northern Kentucky Beekeepers Association website at http://nkybeekeeepersclub.blogspot.com/.
Darcy Pach is a member of the Northern Kentucky Beekeepers Association, the host of “The Beekeeping Podcast”, and a local beekeeper in Burlington, KY.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
1. Podcasting "The Beekeeping Podcast" - Last year, I actually did two episodes of this, but I really wasn't committed. This year, I've got a new microphone and much more material. My main goal is to encourage other people who are just beginning or thinking about getting stated in beekeeping. I hope you'll tune in.
2. Catch a Swarm - After reading so much about swarming, I now want to catch one. I just don't want to see my hives swarm. I've got a swarm box ready and I'm waiting for a phone call from someone who knows where an easy hive to catch is. Last year, I got several calls about 'removing' bees from the inside walls of houses or eradicating hornets, no way. This year, I'd like to start a third hive with a swarm.
3. Photograph More - I've thought about trying to photograph all of the relevant honey flow sources here in Kentucky. The idea would be to share this with other beekeepers to help identify bloom times and kinds of honey they are getting. I also enjoy looking back over my first year in pictures and have committed to taking more detailed pictures for my blog.
4. Enter My Honey In The Local Fair - Last year I only saw one jar of honey at the fair. This year, I'll be entering mine and I hope to encourage others to do the same. Non-beekeepers can't appreciate what they don't see. Besides, I like those blue ribbons!
5. More to come...
Friday, February 13, 2009
Both hives seed to have good food stores, although Exodus was a little lighter than Genesis.
Now, I'll prepare for a little late winter feeding, and on the next warm day, load them up.