Monthly Archives: August 2012

Puget Sound Beekeepers

I spent the past week in Seattle visiting friends and on a whim I decided to google Seattle beekeeping before heading out for some area wine tastings. It just so happened the Puget Sound Beekeepers were meeting to inspect their hives in the Washington Park Arboretum. I decided to stop by and check out their apiary.

Seattle is in full bloom right now and the bees had a huge variety of flowers to visit. We also saw many more bumbles than I usually see in Austin. The beekeeper I spoke with said the maple and blackberries made up an excellent flow this year but a wetter spring prevented the bees from taking full advantage. I also noticed the bees around town seemed darker than the Italians we are used to in Texas. The Seattle Beekeepers confirmed they use mostly New World Carniolans. These bees are more suited to the weather in Seattle, but he did say they have a tendency to swarm more.

Here are some photos of the apiary on a beautiful (and sunny!) Seattle day:

No Trespassing Sign

Seattle Hives

Seattle Hives

Seattle Bumble

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Mystery Honey Part Deux

A few weeks ago I posted about my first honey harvest at the Sunshine Community Gardens, and how it was a complete bust. The general consensus was a super filled with dumpster honey which I ended up throwing out. I had planned on sending a sample for analysis but in the end decided it wasn’t worth the money to have someone tell me my honey was 40% high fructose corn syrup.

I had another harvest this weekend from one of my south Austin hives which has been consistently producing beautiful floral spring honey. When I started extracting this time however, it was that same thick weird “honey” I found in my central Austin hive just a few short weeks ago. Clearly something is up, and I’m now thinking perhaps this wasn’t produced by some dumpster diving bees.

My new theory is honeydew honey. Central Texas is experiencing an explosion in aphids due to the rains and hot weather we’ve had this summer. I’m guessing that the bees are taking up aphid honeydew instead of plant nectar which is resulting in this unusual honey. It is extremely difficult to extract using the crush and strain method and also has a very grainy texture. At this point, I think I need to bite the bullet and send a sample off to A&M. Are there any other beekeepers out there who have run across this issue before?

At least this harvest wasn’t a complete bust as we had a wonderful lunch from Team Baab-Brock Farms based on honey and the wild plums ripening around Austin right now.

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McKayla is not impressed with your graffiti

For whoever decided it would be fun to tag my hive at the Sunshine Community Gardens, there is really only one response.

McKayla is not impressed with your tagging

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Harvest at Sunshine Gardens a Bust

I was super excited to pull 8 frames of honey off my hive at the Sunshine Community Gardens on Sunday. I had high hopes for some delicious honey produced in a pesticide free environment teeming with flowers and vegetables. What I got instead was a super thick almost goo like substance that has a sweet taste but doesn’t smell like honey.

After almost 36 hours, it is still sitting in the first 5 gallon filtering bucket laughing at gravity.

Terrible Honey from Sunshine

The “honey” that actually made it through the first coarse filter is barely even going through the nylon strainer bag. I brought it to the Austin Urban Beekeeping Meetup Group this evening and the general consensus is that it is dumpster honey.

For those unfamiliar with this particular variety of honey, it is when your girls decide to ignore all the beautiful flowering plants around town, and go straight to a dumpster of a restaurant or other business where high fructose corn syrup is plentiful. You may recall the Brooklyn hive whose honey turned red after hitting up the local maraschino cherry factory.

So this batch of honey is going in the garbage. I plan on sending a sample to A&M to do an analysis just try and get some clue on what happened, but it certainly not how I wanted my inaugural harvest from the gardens to turn out.

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You get a bee! You get a bee!

I don’t know how I missed this.

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