Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Slacker Apology and Update

I have been a Lazybones, loafer, and Slacker Blogger / beekeeper. I have tons of bad excuses for it all, but I prefer my one good excuse. I was letting nature take its course, and letting the bees work their magic under an occasional watchful eye. Not only have I not kept up this blog, but I’ve ignored my email also. My apologies to those of you that emailed with questions and offers for me to come and get hives/swarms you found in your yards. I guess missing out on free bees will be my own punishment. I promise this will not happen again.

My last Blog was in September right after I did my honey harvest of my only remaining hive. “Old Faithful” is the name I think it has earned. This is my first hive and it has managed to overcome my mistakes as a beekeeper, the environment of my yard (lots of shade and ants), and all the flooding from this years tropical storm.

Soon after that harvest I placed the empty frames, for protection and cleaning, on top of “Old Faithful”, and went out to purchase a couple of NUCS from my local bee dealer. My setup was: “Old Faithful”, a new healthy NUC (5 frames), and one healthy NUC in a 10 frame hive. They have all been thriving in the bee yard for almost 3 months now. It may be due in part to my decision that there would be nothing to gain or lose by inspecting them this late in the year, so might as well let things “bee” (beekeeper joke)

Mid December I decided it was time to do a quick inspection to confirm every hive had good winter stores. Much to my surprise “Old Faithful” did not only have enough, but was suffering of an excessive amount of honey stores. The 9 frame supper I had placed on top of it for cleaning did not only get cleaned, but 6 out of 9 frames were refilled.

So going into this Florida winter (November was unseasonably cold, December has been mild) I have “Old Faithful” in a 10 frame Lang hive, queen excluder, and a full 10 frame supper (after I robbed the top supper). I want to remove the queen excluder before spring, to allow the queen to partially use this supper for laying. More on this idea later. The activity is normal for this season, and I can see Pollen coming in even now.

My 5 Frame Nuc in the standard NUC hive now has a 5 frame supper on it. Two frames are full courtesy of “Old Faithful” and three are ¼ drawn out.

My 5 frame NUC in a 10 frame box looks good and I decided it was in a perfect stage to try an experiment I never got to try this summer. I removed the outside plastic frames, (3 on east side, 2 on the west) and replaced them with my modified plastic starter strip frames. Natural beekeeping aided by an invention of modern beekeeping. I find plastic frames easier to pull out of the hive. The humidity doesn’t expand them or warp them, but I like the natural wax foundation on wooden frames so bees can build the size they want to build. To me, if it works, this would be the best of both worlds. If I see good progress, I may take all my plastic medium supper frames and modify them this way. Right now I’m not sure what is going to happen, check back and find out.

So what became of the 5 capped honey frames I found in “Old Faithful”? I placed 2 Full frames in the NUC's supper; a third frame broke apart when I attempted to pull it. It had been badly bridge to adjacent empty frames. I threw the mess on the ground and let the bees clean it. The other 3??? Well, there was a December Florida honey harvest. I kept the 16 ounce jar, for Christmas I honey baked a ham with the 2 cups of honey in the Tupperware, and the rest were sold or given away as stocking stuffers.

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