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A Month of Bees

September 22, 2011

So many things have been happening since the last time  posting on the blog. I have decided to do a summary of the month so far. The last post was the extraction of the honey. After that was done there was quite a bit of cappings containing honey that were left.  I scraped the cappings from each hive separately as well as one frame that looked like it had a different color of honey. Here is a picture of the wax/honey  before straining. [caption id="attachment_444" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Cappings in the jars"]Cappings in the jars[/caption] Using some cheese cloth with the same method as previously I squeezed the honey from the wax. I then washed the wax cappings with cold water, let it dry and put it in the freezer in a  ziploc baggie. I intend to try to make some lip balm with the honey and wax for winter project. I know I was wondering so you must be too. The Darker honey really doesn't taste much different from the other honey. I'm not sure why my bees wait until the weekend when I'm around to do things but it sure seems like they want me to watch and learn. Looking out my window on the Labor Day weekend  there was quite a bit of commotion around hive # 2.   When I got to the roof there was mass carnage in front of the hive. It was time for the expulsion of the Drones.  Drones which are male bees, do no work to keep the hive alive (except mating with other queens in the hood) but still continue to eat the honey the ladies have worked so  hard all year to collect. When the weather starts to turn from summer to fall they are kicked to the curb to put it mildly.  Here is a pic of two workers herding a drone away from the hive. [caption id="attachment_456" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Drones be gone!"]Drones be gone![/caption] The wasps have been in full force for the last few weeks, hanging outside the hive waiting for a weak bee to grab and eat. Most of the drones hanging outside the hive were in some sort of stupor, probably not believing that the good times had come to an end. Now was feeding time for the wasps!  I watched as a worker bee would herd or dump a drone outside the hive and a wasp would wait until the worker left before biting the head off the drone. It was almost like they had some sort of agreement. Wasps are not one of my favorite insects but I almost had a feeling of sadness for them, knowing they were starving and would probably die once the cold weather came. Then I squished them under my shoe. [caption id="attachment_459" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Drone Carnage"]Drone Carnage[/caption] [caption id="attachment_462" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="3-wasps-and-a-drone"]3-wasps-and-a-drone[/caption] Here in BC we have the same problem as most bees and beekeepers of the world.  One that is causing the most problems is the Varroa mite. The mite (visible with the naked eye) feeds off the bee's hemolymph, or blood. They breed quickly and can cause the hive to die. There are treatments though, some organic and some with chemicals. I'm not going to go into the many different avenues of treating the colony except to give you my experience. Formic Acid is an organic compound that when it evaporates creates a cloud of acid that kills the mites and not the bees. After cautiously soaking the pads similar to the green styrofoam stuff that flower arrangements in a measured amount ( 80 ml) of formic acid, they were placed on the top of the frames of the brood box. I don't have any pictures of this as I was holding my breath the whole time while making sure I was downwind to avoid the nasty vapors. Now here's the thing, I had done so much research on how to do it, I failed to think about how the bees would behave if I did an inspection before treating with the formic acid. 12 noon inspection and treatment, 1:00 off to the beach for a beautiful day, 7pm home to the most bees I have ever seen outside a hive. [caption id="attachment_458" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Formic acid treatment"]Formic acid treatment[/caption] I apologise for the out of focus pictures as I was more concerned about getting them into the hive. [caption id="attachment_457" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Bearding on the hive"]bearding on the hive[/caption] After opening up the entrance reducer and gently scooping the bees with my hand (inside a glove) they all proceeded to go into the hive. This pretty much raps up the month with the bees.  Can't wait to see what new things they have in store for me for the fall and winter! STeve


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