Thursday, June 19, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - Third Week of June 2014

With evenings lit by the amber hues of the June Honey Moon, we diligently worked on bees, hives, and honey over Father’s Day weekend.

At the beginning of the weekend, we had 11 hives, but with the transfer of queen cells to prevent swarming we ended the weekend with 12 hives.

One by one we opened each hive, checked for signs of health issues, looked for queens, checked eggs/larva, inventoried food stores, and documented wax building progress.   Frame by frame we reviewed the status of 100,000 bees.    Here’s our report

Hive 1
First honey super (extra food stores) is full and some is capped
Starting to build out second honey super comb
Went into second deep (core of the hive) and found two frames with queen cells that are not yet capped
Gave one frame to hive 5 since it is queenless
Started hive 12 with one frame with 5 queen cells and also took two more frames of brood and nurse bees
Gave hive 1 four new frames of comb to work on

Hive 2
Building out some of the comb in the honey super
Looks healthy with plenty of brood
Did not go into bottom deep since second deep was good

Hive 3
Weak hive
Spotty laying of eggs and have not drawn out more than 60% of the comb in the first deep
Watch queen for poor mating
Added syrup to feeder
May be able to add a second deep at next inspection

Hive 4
Filled most of second deep with comb and brood
Took off feeder and gave them a honey super

Hive 5
No queen or eggs
Removed four frames and gave 3 to hive 11 and 1 to hive 9
Found a frame with eggs in hive 7 and gave it to hive 5
Added a queen obtained from another beekeeper

Hive 6
70% comb built out so may be able to add second super next week
Added syrup
Watch for egg laying in next two weeks if queen successfully mates

Hive 7
Saw queen laying in upper box
Built out 45% of frames
Beetle larvae in feeder cleaned out
Added syrup

Hive 8
Top brood chamber 60% built out in comb and already has brood of all ages
Added syrup

Hive 9
Added syrup
Left hive alone since a saw queen piping after hatching yesterday

Hive 10
Added syrup

Hive 11
Queen hatched today
Need to add a frame of brood
Added syrup

Hive 12
Started with three frames of brood and five queen cells uncapped from hive 1
Also nurse bees in abundance

While we were doing our work, a purple swallowtail decided to join us, looking for any traces of nectar on the burr comb we removed (extra comb built between frames).

At the end of the day, we had a large collection of wax fragments from our cleanup of every hive component.    My father in law and I built a solar wax melter (cypress with a lexan cover) on Father’s Day morning - it was a dad thing.   Wax melts at 144F and the greenhouse effect works very well to heat a box that hot.   We placed the raw wax pieces (which contain many contaminants from tree resin to bee parts) in women’s stockings which serve as a perfect filter.   Below are photographs of the raw wax/stockings, the melter, and the finished product.   We processed 3 pounds of wax over the weekend and we’ll be making votive candles and lip balm from it.

The rest of the weekend was filled with the usual Unity Farm visits

Egg laying snapping turtles

Wild turkeys in a meadow

The deer and groundhogs were very active but too fast to get a good picture.

We harvested Shitake (4 different subtypes) and Golden Oyster (has a citrus-like taste).   There’s nothing better than a fresh Shitake stir fry.

Next weekend will be more mushroom inoculation, and vegetable harvesting.   It’s definitely the peak of our vegetable season.

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