A new year

So I am now entering into my second year of beekeeping. I can hardly call myself a beekeeper after my first year as I lost my first hive to wasps and my second hive to an extremely cold winter. As it stands, I keep no bees. I get my next batch of the critters on the 27th (This Saturday). I would like to welcome any of my curious friends to come and join me for placing the bees into the hive.

Here is to hoping for a better year at beekeeping :)

Buggers...

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BYU Radio Interview

Recently I was given the opportunity to be interviewed by BYU for a radio program. They wanted to cover a few topics about beekeeping so they asked one of the local bee-keeping groups I am a part of to contact them. I wanted to contact the station to let them know of some hot topics that they should cover, and they insisted on having me do the interview. I let them know that I was quite the novice but they didn’t seem to mind. Here is the interview for you all to enjoy. Pardon any awkwardness.

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The Taste of Honey!

Watching the local beekeeping community groups on various social media sites I saw that most people had planned to harvest their honey on or around Labor Day. Having checked my hives, I foresaw that there would be hardly enough honey to fill up a cup, so with tail between my legs I decided the bees wouldn’t be robbed this year. After this decision I was a bit disheartened as a beekeeper. What had I done wrong? Was it the season? Was it all of the fires and smoke? I shrugged off checking my bees for several days past the norm, and finally decided last night to poke my nose in to see how they were doing. I was quite pleased to see that several bees were still hard at work, but even more so when I pulled up a thick frame of honey. After inspecting several more frames I noted the bees had done their job, but maybe just a bit behind everyone else hives. I made the decision to do a very modest harvest and pulled two nearly full frames of honey.

Without an extractor, I would need to use the crush and strain method. Many beekeepers look down upon this as it destroys precious comb. In looking at my hive, I noted one of my boxes was mostly empty, so pulling two or more frames out for the winter seemed pretty probably. Justifications aside, I wanted some wax for my wife and her patience with me during this process, So Away I went.

 

Slicing away the wax with a knife, I placed the dripping comb into a strainer and gently mashed it with a potato masher. After about 45 minutes of working at it I had nearly filled a pretty good sized plastic container.

 

I strained the honey a few more times to remove the wax that came with and noted a fairly decent colorization to my harvest. After I had called my efforts of straining the honey good, I poured the honey into a glass jar.

Here is the nearly filled glass jar and some beeswax. The honey needs a few days to sit and let the air bubbles get out. There is still a little bit of wax in the jar, but it still tastes good. The honey had a rich dark flavor. My father in law mentioned that it tasted a bit like lavender, which we have in abundance in our neighborhood. I am satisfied with my first years harvest.

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A new box and a new queen!

Today I did an inspection of my yellow box expecting to find them still without a queen. I dug into both boxes of the hive and was starting to feel pretty down when I came across several frames of eggs, brood, and capped brood.

Honeybee brood in various stages (Image from http://charlottehoneyblog.com)

I didnt need to find the queen to know that this hive is now back on track. Leave it to nature to take care of its own!

 

Moving onto the blue box, I noticed several frames with capped honey and nectar. I observed that 7/10 frames were drawn out with wax, so I went ahead and added my new box. All in all I am starting to feel quite pleased with the progress of my first hives.

I will leave off with a picture of a queen bee, as I am always thrilled when I am able to spot one walking along a frame.

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Adding Boxes, and my First Sting

Its been a long time since the last update. I have made countless trips out to the hive and even recorded several videos, but I couldnt help but feel that I was rambling on in all of them.Much has happened since my list video that I posted. For one, I was involved in a house fire. Everyone survived and only one room was damaged, but many of my belongings smelled / smell like smoke. During the fire there was a large concentrated quantity of smoke directly enveloping both hives. Luckily they were able to put the fire down fairly quickly, so the bees are just fine.

I was stung about a week and a half ago. It was the first sting which I have received since becoming a beekeeper. I returned home from staying at a friends house for several days due to the fire. I had not looked upon my bees for what had been several days. I went out in shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops and it took all of about 3 seconds for a bee to zoom down onto my foot and sting me. I surmise that I was stung due to the recent increase in heat. A large quantity of bees were outside fanning the hive in order to cool it down, and I think the added stress of a person walking out (I was wearing all black, which the bees can interpret as “BEAR!!”) near them was too much for them to handle. I was able to remove the stinger, and about thirty seconds later the pain stopped. I was quite disappointed at first as there was no swelling, but several days later I had a reaction to the stinger being broken down by my body. My foot began to swell, and my throat felt tight so I downed some liquid benadryl and slept for a good two hours. A few days later my foot itched pretty bad in the middle of the night, but overall I am glad to not have a horrible bee allergy.

Here is a video of me showing off the hives. It’s not much to see, but it should ease the minds of those whom I have been told are dying to see more of Eric and his bees. There was a sprinkler running near me, so the sound quality is a little questionable. Also, anyone who knows me in person can attest to the fact that my hands can sometimes get the shakes, so very sorry for the camera work! I should certainly hire a cameraman / woman!

Also, I get questions every now and then from people about the bees, so please, feel free to ask me anything and I will include the best answers to them in my next video.

Enjoy!

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The first inspection

I did my first hive inspection today at the 5 day mark. Many pieces of literature differ regarding the best time inspect a hive for the first time. I chose today for my own selfish reasons, but it proved to be for the best as the comb was getting way out of hand within the hives. The queen had been released in both hives, and I found the presence of many sets of eggs within the different hives as well. I did not post the video for the first hive inspection as it was very long and disorganized… but just like all things, I got it better on the second run through. I hope you enjoy the video, as today was a very exciting day!

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A quick checkup

I wanted to take a minute to show the hives since I got them in place and demonstrate how the smoker works.

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Hiving the Bees

There have been days in my life which I have looked forward to with much enthusiasm, but there are few that I have looked forward to with as much enthusiasm as yesterday. I woke up bright and early and went with my friend Carlen to pick up the bees. We stood in line and as excited as I was, well, wouldn’t you know it? I was first in line! Many, many people ended up arriving to collect bees. As they let us in and I marched proudly to the pickup desk I was overcome by the sheer fact that I was soon to be in possession of 6 pounds of bees. I went through all of the necessary paperwork, purchased two extra beekeepers suits, and got my boxes out into the car.

I put my bees in a safe place until it was just about sun down. About an hour before sundown I got to work setting up my hives.

I won’t describe the actual process of hiving my bees, instead here is a video showing the entire thing!


I went out this afternoon and took a peek at the hives from afar. I noted the hives were busy with activity, and that there were several flowers in the yard with bees upon them. I think this bodes well for the bees taking to the hives as a new home, so we will see how it is in about a week!

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All in place.

So even though I said a new post would come in early June, I failed to realize I still had quite a bit of work to do before I would be set for my bees to come home. I spent the majority of the evening with a shovel and some bricks. Anytime I feel like I know what I am doing, a trip to home depot is sure to take that feeling right away. I returned home with several cinder blocks and a few wooden planks and set to work. Here is the end result.

Its suggested that a beehive face South-East, so that the front entrance of the hive gets sunlight bright and early, so as to wake up the workers bright and early.

Here is an interesting tidbit about bees! All worker bees are female! The males of the hive are referred to as drones. They are generally regarded as quite worthless. Drones have no stinger, and are generally pushed out of the hive to die in preparation for winter.

A good view from the south, showing a bit of the area nearby.

Bees need a bit of water nearby, and on just the other side of the fence is a ditch. The more accessible the water, the better of the bees will be. The hives are right underneath an apple tree and an apricot tree, and directly in front of a few raspberry bushes. We should be eating just fine… I think when I harvest my honey I will have to make some of this great looking Honey-Lemonade with Raspberry Cubes.

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Sometimes there’s a man.. Well

Hello Friends,

Its about high-time I make that first entry into my little book of bees. When I introduce people to the idea that I am a soon to be Beekeeper I am met with mixed reactions. I am already known I feel as a man with peculiar interests, so let me start out by explaining what it is that has driven me to become interested in bees.

Back when I was a little one, I spent much of my time outside. When I consider what I did as a child it is always with the memory of playing out in the yard with whatever toy was my favorite at the time. One thing I strongly associate with this childhood of mine are the little critters of the earth that I would see during my adventures. My first encounter with a bee was just as traumatic as anyone might guess, and I quickly learned after that to always observe them with a quiet reverence.

I try and pinpoint the exact time when I decided I wanted to deal with bees… The closest I can come to is the Utah State Fare a few years back. When we came upon the Utah Beekeepers Association and their booth, they had quit a bit of information about bees, and the current state of trouble they seem to be in right now. I am not an expert on things like colony collapse disorder, nor do I plan to be anytime soon… But something about the plight of the bee struck a cord in me. I feel in a lot of ways that it is my duty to step up to the plate and do what I can to learn more about these creatures before they become scarce.

Last June I caught the “Bug” pretty hard. I wanted bees and I wanted them right then and there. I looked and found that yeah, I could get some bees, but they would most likely fail. I began to research and found that the best time for bees is early may. I began to collect books and browse websites about bees. I began to talk to my mother in law who’s father deals with bees quite often. I even had a few chats with him about bees!

In January I ordered my first two hives, along with the starter package of bees for each of them. People often ask how many bees I will be getting to start with, and where I get them from. The answer is, I am getting 6 pounds of bees, and I am getting them in two separate boxes! Yes, you read that correctly.. They sell bees by the pound!

On the 31st of March I was able to go and pick up my beehives. I am using the Langstroth method of keeping bees, so I have 6 pine boxes that are stack-able. Each box comes with 10 frames, and each frame is double sided.

A Langstroth frame with plastic foundation (The Bees will build comb on top of the foundation)

I decided to paint my hives the other day. I chose a light purple color for one box, and a light yellow for the other. The purple color has failed to show through due to the color of the pine, but the distinction between the hives as well as protecting my investment with a solid coat of paint is what is most important. While painting my hives I learned a valuable piece of information…. Paint is an amazing glue! I had to spend about 5 minutes extra trying to separate my hives once they were dry :)

Now, being an excitable guy I tend to forgive minor issues with products when I purchase them. I wanted to take a minute to critique the place where I purchased my hives from. I was talked into registering for a class with the company who sold the hives to me on the pretense that I would be guaranteed my bees this year. Not wanting to miss out, I decided to dive right in. The class was full of valuable information. One of the first conversations that took place upon entering the class was to NEVER purchase used bee equipment, as there is a chance that there may be residual disease contained within the hive or other utilities. This seemed like sound advice to me as I have heard similar things said by aquarium enthusiasts about purchasing used aquarium goods. When I picked up my hives a few weeks back I got them home and did my own little inspection. As I pulled open the hives, I noticed a faint scent of beeswax, as well as traces of beeswax and propolis (A substance that bees secrete) on the inside of the hive as well as upon several of the frames. Long story short… Don’t tell me to only buy new equipment… charge me for new equipment price.. and then sell me used equipment. Thats bad business!

I will be getting the actual bees for my hive at the end of the month. I hope to get a video up for you to all see me putting my bees into their first home, and maybe even of me getting my first few stings!

I will leave off here with some photos of my beehives. Look for another post in early June!

Couldn't resist putting a picture of Nimbus in here, who has most likely been wondering what the giant boxes outside of the window are.

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