Category Archives: beekeeping

Happy New Year!

I hope all my beekeeping friends had a wonderful holiday and are enjoying the lull in beekeeping duties before the spring swarm season is upon us. While the winter months aren’t completely void of tasks, it is a nice break from the hectic spring and summer months.

Austin finally got into the mid-50’s today after several weeks of cold overcast weather. It was also nice and sunny which helps warm up a hive allowing bees to take cleansing flights. I stopped by the Sunshine Community Garden today to plant another round of beets and carrots as well as harvest some chard and arugula (rocket for my readers down under) for tonight’s dinner. While I was there, it was the perfect opportunity to check my hive without opening it up. Just by quietly observing your hive entrance, the amount of activity can give you a good indication of the health of your hive.

I think I timed my visit perfectly when the temperature and sunshine finally got the girls warm enough to take off. The entrance was alive with activity as the hive left for a cleansing flight and then returned.

An hour later, the activity was much more subdued as all the girls had taken their turn. I also noticed bees taking advantage of winter crops such as broccoli that were not picked quickly enough and had flowered. The forecast shows temperatures in the high 60’s next weekend so I may take a quick peek in all my hives to make sure their honey stores are still looking good.

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Fun with Beeswax

Well, it took over two years, but we finally went through all the lip balm we made in August of 2010. While the balm we made last time turned out really well, we always felt is was a tad on the hard side so we tweaked the recipe this year to make it easier to apply.

We used the basic same ingredients and supplies found in my previous post with the addition of some bergamot essential oil, and we even added a little honey to the mixture.

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This time I went with 110 grams of beeswax and 60 grams each of the almond and jojoba oils. We also added a teaspoon of honey. Be sure to break up your wax into small pieces to help it melt quickly.

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Here I am adding the oil while Gitanjali is so happy to be drying cutting boards.

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Once the mixture completely melted, we added 2 mL of grapefruit essential oil and a few drops of the bergamot. Then you just pour into your empty tubes.

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It cools pretty quickly and then you can scrape off the top layer of the balm.

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Then you can cap them and slather your chapped lips with beeswax goodness!

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When life gives you Aphid Poop Honey…

After Jesse over at Dai Due used some of the honeydew honey I gave him to marinate some feral hog loins along with mustard grape vinegar and Texas olive oil, I was inspired to find some recipes that complimented this honey’s unique woodsy taste.

I hit the jackpot last night. These balsamic and honey glazed root vegetables are amazing and super easy to make as long as you have a few hours to roast them.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for greasing baking dish
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup honey (if you don’t have aphid poop on hand, a darker honey is probably better)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground peppercorns
3 lbs of root veggies (I used carrots, parsnips, and cipollini onions all cut roughly the same size)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large baking dish with oil and set aside. Whisk the oil, vinegar, honey, rosemary, thyme, salt, and ground peppercorn in a large bowl. Add the veggies and toss with the glaze. Transfer to the baking dish and roast until the glaze is thick and bubbling, turning the veggies every 30 minutes for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, this is truly a dish worthy of a holiday table. Bon Appétit!

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These hives are amazing…

I found this video from iheartbees. I was most amazed by the hives these bees live in.

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Hawaii to the Rescue…maybe

After requeening Rue’s hive on September 23rd, a mid-October inspection showed no brood or eggs and extremely aggressive bees. I received several stings to the ankles and pulled over 100 stingers from my gloves and shoes after checking on the hive.

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This late in the year, it is extremely difficult to get new queens, so I had to resort to calling up Kona Queens in Hawaii to get a queen shipped to the mainland. I installed her on October 25th, and checked the hive today. The queen cage is empty but I did not do a full inspection as the bees are still very aggressive. I’ll check the hive in two weeks. Either it will be calmed down due to the new queen or the new queen wasn’t accepted and the hive won’t make it through the winter.

I’m hoping the new queen was accepted because it was very obvious during the mid-October inspection that this hive was the obvious culprit in the robbing and ultimate death of Knives’ hive.  The top four supers were all honey with only the bottom two being used as the brood chamber. If this new queen does not take, I’ll lose the last hive at Baab-Brock farms as well as over 100 pounds of honey. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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Hive Aftermath

A week after I discovered the death of Knives, I had the not so fun task of taking her hive apart. A wax moth was the first thing that greeted me when I opened up the hive:

Wax Moth

Only a few bees remained in the hive. This was on what was once a beautiful frame of pollen:

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I don’t know if these are SHB or Wax Moth larvae, but either way they are gross:

Wax Moth Larvae

Another sad frame:

Wax Moth Larva

All that remains of this hive:

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I managed to salvage 8 frames which happened to be the newest ones on the top of the hive and disposed of the rest. While I’m pretty sure the hive was robbed (more on that later), I decided to play it safe and not try to recycle frames that may be carrying disease.

The day I took the hive apart just happened to be the annual Viva la Vida Fest at the Mexic-Arte Museum so we dressed up as bees to honor Knives’ hive.

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R.I.P. Knives 2.0

I had a disappointing trip out to Baab-Brock Farms today to inspect Knives 2.0’s hive. While I was smoking the hive, I noticed a lot of dead bees on the entrance which is unusual. It went downhill from there after opening up the hive. There were only a few bees on the inner cover and only a handful in the topmost super. There was also a wax moth just hanging out as well. The next super had fewer bees but 2-3 frames of capped honey.

The next super is when I knew something was terribly wrong. This was a honey super but had all the classic signs of robbing. The wax capping on the honey looked ripped open and all the frames were completely drained of honey. I didn’t have my normal camera crew with me otherwise I would have liked to get some photos.

Each additional super was the same story. No honey, no brood, and just a few remaining sad bees bravely trying to stem the tide of small hive beetles and wax moths which had invaded the weakened hive.

I now need to do some research on what to do next. I think it is too far in the season to save it. Do I just leave it alone and let nature take its course, or do I remove it and try and save as many frames of drawn comb as I can?

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