Well, it’s been an interesting time around the ranch the past few weeks.
The pole beans, various yellow squashes, leafy green lettuce and tomatoes have gone crazy. (All the plums from 1 tree are now gone, the other’s about to start dropping so if you’re in the hood, stop by for plums. Please.) Turns out these things are so simple to grow that even I can do it (of course, I’m constantly supervised by the Missus, but that’s another thread.).
Here’s an update on the bees:
Last week I removed the top brood super from Ray and moved the bees to the bottom brood super, keeping the honey frames for harvesting. Today I went in and inspected the lower brood for a Queen and brood of any type – sadly, none to be found at all (though I did witness a baby bee emerging from her cell.) Since I did not locate a Queen or brood of any types and because I’d harvested and jarred the honey (a couple of gallons, it appears) from the top super, I exchanged the lower brood / honey frames and replaced them with the upper super / harvested honey frames… don’t worry, there is still a lot of honey and nectar for the remaining bees). I would like to install the remaining colony members of this hive on top of Freddie (the very strong hive), but because the honey super on Freddie is doing so well (read about it in the next paragraph), I’ll keep them in their current brood super / hive for another week.
About 10 days ago I corrected my improperly installed (don’t ask!) honey super on Freddie and let the girls have some time to settle in. Yesterday I checked in on them and they’re going great guns (!) with 9 of the frames in the honey super completely built out in fresh comb (which is very, very pretty)… and the comb is filled to ~2/3 capacity with uncapped nectar (remember: nectar is >21% moisture content and shouldn’t be combined with honey for storage because the moisture will cause it to ferment). So, I’ll give them another week or so to fill and cap that super (at which time it will be between 21-17% moisture, and therefore, honey) and based on what’s going on in Ray’s hive, I’ll either steal, er, harvest Freddie’s honey super or just place Ray’s remaining super on top of Freddie’s honey super and let nature take it’s course. During this wait time, the bees in Ray will eat and clean up the frames / cells and, I suppose, continue bringing in pollen for stores. (They’re worker bees, it’s what they do.)
Tomorrow I’ll harvest the remaining honey from Ray’s lower brood supes, filter and jar that, too. Then I’ll take those cleaned frames and install them in a “bait hive” that I’ll also dab a bit of lemongrass oil on (the inside) to attract any swarming bees looking for new digs. To sweeten the pot a bit, the cleaned frames will also include brood cells so the bees will have a nice & comfy, proven home to hang their tiny little hats.
If you ever hear anyone say that beekeeping’s easy, ask them to define “easy” for you… It’s not like digging ditches, but there are times when a long-handled shovel or the 9:21 train looks like a pretty good option.
As always, thanks for stopping by, be well and don’t forget to write when you get work.
btw, from the initial harvest I also recovered a 9″ x 1/2″ round chunk of beeswax that I’ll break up, melt down and form in to a more usable block of wax (via quart milk carton).