January is usually a slow month. Cleaning used equipment for the coming season. Counting supplies and figuring out what we need for spring
Attempting a DeMaree split:
This will do two things, increase our herd size and prevent swarming
The queen is placed in a hive box (properly provisions) between 2 queen excluders. This allows worker bees free movement but not the queen. A buffer hive box or 2, (has comb, honey etc. but no brood) is placed on top of the queen. On top of that is a box or 2 that has the nurse bees and open brood. The lack of queen pheromone will convince them to make a few of these into queens. We only need one. Once we are convinced the new queen is mated we split the two hive and remove the queen excluders.
It worked. We have a new hive. The split did not happen until late May.
Look at all that Populous.
What a sticky mess.
This is why we wear gloves.
MI Honey Fest: Sorry I did not get pictures this year. Had a great time catching up with old friends, showing people the bees and answering questions
New “Employee”: Well we got “Old Blue”. We were excited. To bad he was always in need of repair, Tom says it is cursed. December he hits a deer a totals it. This is not good.
Habit: Looking at whether to see best time to check. We are down to monthly checks but I keep looking at the weather to see what time will be best to check the girls
The Unexpected Beekeepers
Dead outs are treated as used equipment. When a hive dies the hive can be reused as long as we know the death was not from a disease.
Burning the inside helps preserve the hive box
Depending on which report you read anywhere from 75-90% of honey in stores is fake. Even whet h labels say Raw, Pure, Organic etc.
Countries like China use the ultra-filtration or ultra-purification processes to mask the origin of the honey, which is then transshipped [sent to an intermediate country and relabeled as a product of that country to disguise its real origin] and sometimes mixed with a small amount of pollinated honey, from say India, to throw off testers. Sometimes Chinese honey is cut with much cheaper corn syrup or fructose syrup to enhance profit margins, and sometimes Chinese producers even feed corn syrup to the bees to get it into the honey more “naturally.” The importation of Chinese honey was specifically banned because it is so often adulterated.
Yes there are Test (C-3 and C-4). There is a long line to get these test processed and the cost as well, Many get through because of country of origin has loop holes. You pay for what you get cheap is not necessarily real. Know your beekeeper, know your Honey. Know your Farmer, Know your Food.
How Honey Bees Survive Winter
The behavior of bees is affected by temperature. There are three temperatures that are important to the bees:
The cluster temperature.
These bees died in the wintertime while actively attempting to warm up the honey comb around them by decoupling their wing muscles and shivering to produce heat.
Honey bees do not hibernate. Instead, they go into "Torpor" a natural state of decreased physiological activity in honey bees. Here’s what you can expect from honey bees in the winter:
When the air temperature is around 64°F, honey bees can begin to cluster together in the hive to keep the queen and themselves warm. At outside air temperatures of around 57°F, the honey bees will cluster more closely together and the exterior of the cluster with appear more compact. When temperatures drop to 23°F or below, the bees on the inside of the cluster begin vibrating their wing muscles to generate heat, which aids in bringing up the internal core temperature of the cluster. The bees along the outer shell of the cluster remain motionless, acting as a layer of insulation.
Honey bees make no attempt to maintain the temperature in the domicile outside the winter cluster. The temperature within the cluster itself varies. Warmer bees from the inside of the cluster continually change places with the colder bees along the outer edge of the cluster to allow the colder bees to warm up.
The optimal core temperature of a honey bee cluster in a winter hive is 95°F. 81°F is the average temperature observed on the inside of a cluster, while 48°F is the average temperature of the exterior shell of the cluster. Calculations indicate that 500 calories, roughly 1/2 cup of food stores, are needed to maintain this temperature.
Another way that honey bees regulate the temperature of their hive is through the use of “heater bees”, whose job it is to vibrate their abdomens, allowing them to vigorously move their muscles to heat their bodies. This action can bring the bee’s body temperature up to about 111°F, which is 16°F higher than their normal body temperature. These bees will crawl inside of empty cells to keep the surrounding cells warm. One single heater bee is thought to have the ability to keep up to 70 adjoining cells warm.
In the winter, cleansing flights will occur if the air temperature is above 44°F as the body temperature of the bees will be slightly higher, so it is still possible to perform short flights. If the body temperature of the bee falls below 50°F paralysis of the bees’ muscles can begin to take place. At a body temperature of 45°F the bees appear “frozen”, meaning their muscles can no longer move.
We do the winter check in January February and March. Our main job is to see if the bees have enough honey remaining.
A visual check is done on the warmest day available. Any time we open the hive in the winter it has to be a quick in and out. So all things needed are at our finger tips before we start. We open the covers just see where the bees are. If they are in the topmost hive body against the lid, it means that they have eaten the honey below. We put on it some emergency sugar rations. In December as we wrap the up for the winter. We use what is called the mountain camp method of feeding bees. A sheet of newspaper laid on top of the frames with room around the edges to allow the bees to come up, and covered with 4 pounds of plain white sugar is wonderful emergency food. We are relying on water absorption to make the sugar available for the bees’ consumption.
This brings us to our next winter job, ventilation check. We add a moisture board to the top of the hive as we wrap up in December. If this appears dry, nothing more is needed. If it is wet, or mold is appearing on it, it is easily replaced. The sugar “Eke” also acts as an upper entrance. This helps with cross ventilation and if the bottom entrance is plugged they can use it. We also make sure the bottom entrance is clear from snow and debris and yes dead bees.
The Ice Storm, was pretty. Tom enjoyed the snow, when we had it. This winter has started out cold, but turned warm and wet. Not good for the bees
Four New Queens
We bought four new queens. What we wanted to do vs what we did
Planned on re-queening Artemis and Ooppsseyy and the trying our hand at over wintering a double nuc. What ended up doing is re-queening Artemis and Ooppsseyy and Breatha. And making a single nuc to over winter.
More Winterizing Putting on mouse guards (as shown here), removing water including internal feeders, but leaving mass feeders until it is to cold. We also wrap the hive in tar paper to help them regulate extreme temperatures
[*] Varietal Honey: Hoping to get our hives into pollinating fields/orchards. This leads to specialty honeys, Like Lavender blossom honey.
[*] Honey Comb: We have heard you. We will be attempting this too.
[*] Re-Branding: We are going to bring our image up to our standards. This means a new label design, new jars, trying to get our website able to sell on line. Need to find a cheaper way to ship. As it stands shipping is cost just as much as the honey. No longer hodge podging things together
Bees are doing Great
Different pollen colors
Seeing all the Queens
We started the year with 2 hives and ending with 12. What a year. Plan is to get all these hives through the winter, do some more splitting and not buy more hives.
Most are building their homes bigger
Look at all that brood
While there we found out there was hive with bees, we got that too. Teffnutt, she had almost no honey, nectar or pollen. But we did see eggs and thought,” ok there is a queen “We will try and give her somewhat of a chance. We heard from different sources that the gentleman had been ill for some time and all his family lived out of state. She may have been neglected for some time. We will see how this goes
Always carry a bee suit or two so glad we did Jennifer took a picture of us leaving with all our goodies that day.
This Wellness Check all is good, we added more sugar and changed Moisture Boards.
Another Wellness Check, We made it!!
MI Beekeeper Ass Conference
8-9 March, Kellogg Center
Lots of learning
Artemis starting to have problems, we can’t find her. We find lots of queen cells. We are going to split her leaving queen cells in all three hives
Honey Harvest time:
Used our extractor for the first time, Wow made quick work of it too. Also tried the new comb de capper. That too is so much easier to use. A little over 250 pounds of honey. YEAH!!!!
Meet Lily. We did not do the nuc. We did a full hive borrowing resources from the other girls
Lots of Activity
Planting Sunflowers for fall bee food
Planning Aperies for new bees
New bees arrive
Trying a swarm catcher
We did not catch any
Many new things possible
National Honey Month
Our adventure this month was being told of an auction that had beekeeping equipment. Got a great deal on some equipment. Picked up a stainless steel de capping tank and a bunch of wooden wear. Some of the wooden wear we tossed was not worth the effort to clean and repair to make it useful again. Some of it will be very useful in bee nursery and the rest we will be donating to Heroes to Hives. Once we get it cleaned and repaired.
[*] Grants: We will be applying for a couple of grants this winter. They are research grants that will help our prairies and other beekeepers as well
[*] Bee Nursery: The picture is of nursery grates Ned Stoller gave us to help us with our nursery
[*] Queens: Raising our own queens and selling them. We have a couple of classes this coming spring
[*] Nucs: If we can figure this out we will be able increase our stock and sell to other bee keepers. More so if we can get them to over winter
Mass Feeding Time: This is for everyone. Not just our Bees. The weaker hives have internal feeders but the stronger ones are given the mass feeder to keep them from robbing the weaker hives
Winterizing Time: we start to condense down hives. Making sure everyone has stores for the winter. Still mass feeding and internal feeding
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