2017-08-16

Harvest!

Ten Quarts of honey from one super! One would never guess that each frame in the super would hold a quart of liquid gold! The flavor is delicate, a really excellent honey!
Well, it would be an understatement to say that I am pleased with the production this year. The Italian hive has produced two supers of honey for a total of seventeen quarts. They are working on a third super as well.

The other three surviving hives are doing well also right now. They are filling up the larger frames in the deeps with winter stores. From this point on, I will not harvest any more until late season when I can take a good look at what they have in the deeps. If I find a hive that seems to be short on winter stores, I will use the honey from the supers to supplement. 

The two Carni hives will be of the most concern, though that is only comparative. They are showing strength in population growth right now as compared to production. No real surprise, considering the rough start they had this spring(see earlier posts in the April/May time frame). I am encouraged by their progress. Should they survive the winter, they will produce next year I think. 

The walk-away split is very strong in population and doing well working on winter stores. They may yet produce a super of honey too, as they have already started by drawing comb and filling some cells. However, they are concentrating on filling in the deeps with brood, pollen and honey...as they should be. They will quickly run out of room now though, as the deeps are 90+% full. 

I will be doing installing at least three more hive next spring. I want to try my hand at grafting a queen into a split or two. I also want to build up two or three nucs for growing queens and establishing or supplementing hives in the future.

I am getting a bit better at organizing the tasks required to run a small apiary. It takes a time of trial and error to figure out what works best for each task. It is not all that hard, but one needs to learn the basic craft, then fit that into the resources available. Those resources are different for each beekeeper of course. I am very well equipped, having space to work and a lot of tools here on the farm. 

Thus far I have identified the following tasks, all of which are time sensitive...but based on condition, not on a calendar. That makes it a bit more challenging, considering I live 260 miles from the farm. Never-the-less, I digress....

  • Early Spring/Late Winter
    • Check hives to ensure there are not issues with condensation or disease. This is done quickly, as the temps are low and one does not want to 'chill' the hive. Also check for a queen and ensure the honey stores are adequate.
    • Prepare any new hives for placement and occupation. Ensure they are clean, physically sound.
    • Repair equipment if required.
    • Check the insulation that is on the hive, making sure that it is protecting the hive, but not interfering with circulation or with the bees ability to enter and exit the hive when needed.
    • Provide honey or sugar mix if winter stores seem low.
  • Spring (April/May)
    • Add pollen patties if winter is getting long.
    • Add sugar mix if winter stores are getting low and temps are still cold.
    • Check each hive for a queen.
    • Remove any frames that are very dark in color or otherwise seem in need of repair.
    • Prepare for splitting hives if possible...
      • New queen
      • New hive components
      • Prep the ground where the new hive will be placed. (I use landscaping cloth with gravel on top for weed control and cement blocks set on top to elevate the hives)
  • Summer(May-August)
    • Monitor new hives, queens, population growth etc...
    • Add supers when appropriate
    • Ensure skunks and other critters are not bothering the hives
    • Watch for disease. I have done no treatments thus far, nor have I had to. The bees are disease free. Very fortunate thus far.  i attribute this to the fact that the apiary is very remote and far away from tilled fields, and surrounded by a dense and diverse food supply and good water sources.
    • Ensure adequate ventilation in the hive so hot days do not overwhelm the bees ability to maintain hive temperature.
    • Establish or maintain nucs(future)
  • Fall (August-October)
    • Harvest honey
    • Check population and winter stores progress
    • Leave them alone as much as possible...
    • Prepare insulation for hive wintering
    • Reverse order of deeps, putting the bottom deep on top and the reverse (not sure about this actually, but it is what I learned at the U of Minn. class I took, so will go with it for now)
  • Winter
    • Check insulation and circulation, but stay out of the hives unless there is an obvious problem.
    • Repair equipment
    • Build new equipment
    • Wait....
I am certain experience beekeepers would add to this list. But this is what I have learned thus far. There are many details associated with each of these tasks. Perhaps I will write about them sometime, but am too busy with other farm issues right now to take the time.

Speaking of that, I need to quit writing and get some more things done today. It has been a good day thus far with lots getting done and my feeling pretty darn good!  Onward.....