May 2018 Beehives

Bee Growth Report

The yellows are growing so quickly that we added a third super (the fourth/top floor) to their hive today. The purples are doing very well, but don’t need extra room just yet, and the greens finally caught up and got their fresh super today.

This time last year each hive was still in one box, no supers at all.

The reason the hives are so far ahead this year is that we were able to give them last year’s fully-drawn honeycomb (we save the comb after the honey is extracted) to work with, and they also got a good bit of last year’s post-harvest honey (which I had frozen) for fuel. Honey is a much better food source for cold, rainy, or low-nectar days than sugar water, although we do give a new colony sugar water when they can’t get outside enough, or there’s no other food available.

This is also a rich area in which to raise bees. We are continually astonished at the variety of blooming things; our bees have miles of forest and field in which to work, and cold, fresh spring water just yards from their hives.

We also like to think we’re better beekeepers. We don’t poke around in their boxes all the time, and we feel more relaxed and confident that we’ll be able to manage all the complications that arise. The bees figure out most things, we just try to follow their lead.

I’m starting to wish I had the money for an electric 4-frame honey extractor (from $350 to OMG-you-must-be-kidding), hot knife, cappings roller and bins, strainer, and gated honey bucket (about $350 more).

I can borrow all this equipment, but it’s a challenge to schedule for a small window of time, transport equipment, harvest, extract, bottle, clean and return everything in two days. (And if you’ve ever cranked the handle of an extractor for hours at a time, you know why electric is so much better than hand-op… I can dream, anyway.)

I need a honey grant!

But if you know of anyone who is upgrading their equipment, or who is no longer beekeeping and wants to sell a used extractor and the related items, please let me know!

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