Sunday, August 26, 2018

Atlanta Community Food Bank

bee, beekeeping, climate, Atlanta community food bank, honey, spring, crush and strain, flowers
A long term goal met - an Atlanta Community Food Bank donation of 21 lbs of honey.   In 2017 there was no surplus honey.   This year, the favorable spring climate helped the flowers and honey bees produce lots of surplus honey - enough for friends, neighbors and the Food Bank.  Thank you to all my friends who helped with the crush and strain harvesting.

Please visit the Food Bank. Today's Food Bank is more sophisticated than a warehouse and distribution center for macaroni and cheese boxes or canned goods.   

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Darwinian Beekeeping

I'll keep this short to describe how I came upon the title of this post. It begins with seeing the film, Leave No Trace - it's about a veteran father and young daughter living on public park land.  The film contains two beekeeping scenes and the credits list an organization called the Preservation Beekeeping Council.  This led me to their pamphlet - 10 practices for better beekeeping inspired by Thomas D. Seeley. Follow the link for more details and I'll reference number 4 in the list (..build from rough lumber) later in this post.
  1. Work with bees adapted to your locale
  2. Space your hives as widely as possible
  3. House your bees in small hives
  4. Roughen the inner walls of your hives or build from rough lumber
  5. Use hives whose walls provide good insulation
  6. Position hives high off the ground
  7. Let 10-20% of your comb be drone comb
  8. Minimize disturbance of nest structure
  9. Minimize relocations of hives
  10. Refrain from treating colonies for Varroa mites
bee, beekeeping, darwinian beekeeping, Thomas D. Seeley, washboarding,
How many authors have published books about honey bees living in the wild? - practically none.  Seeley the author of Honeybee Ecology, Honeybee Democracy and Following the Wild Bees speaks about a new idea, Darwinian Beekeeping -  letting bees live as they have evolved to live in trees without interference.   Darwinian Beekeeping turns on the idea that natural selection operates on the bees to maintain their resistance to disease. Regarding number 4 in the list (..build from rough lumber), Seeley describes on page 18 of Honeybee Ecology, bees moving forward and backward as "planing."  In the wild, bees scrub the rough wood landing area of a tree trunk hive. The same bee behavior on an already smooth man-made hive makes no sense.   See my seesaw cartoon - on the left, the predominant beekeeping practice is to manipulate large hives made of thin and smooth milled wood.  On the right, Darwinian beekeeping letting bees be bees.
bee, beekeeping, darwinian beekeeping, Thomas D. Seeley, washboarding,

Saturday, August 4, 2018

ergonomic bottling

bee, beekeeping, honey, pail perch, bottler, white foam, ergonomic,
Here's a photo during my fourth round of bottling.  Also shown is the last phase of bottling where I tilt the bottler with a homemade pail perch

Kitchen cabinets limit my ergonomic bottling options, but there's one place!   Over the stove and with the help of a short four legged stool, I can comfortably stand and bottle honey.   Repetitive bottling can be a literal pain in the neck if I don't create a proper work environment.

Just a coincidence, but the sturdy four legged stand is decorated with a stylized bee.

Monday, July 16, 2018

with and without Bee Cozy hive wrap

bee, beekeeping, temperature, ventilation, winter, cloake board, respiration, bee cozy, hive wrap,
There's no ideal way to compare winter bee respiration with and without the Bee Cozy, but I'll do my best here.

IR temperature measurements started on 12-Nov-2017 without the Bee Cozy.  See a previous post, bee respiration, for measurement method.  On 2-Jan-2018, the 17.0°F outdoor temperature convinced me to add the Bee Cozy to two vertically stacked hives.  Only the queen excluder portion of a cloake board separate these hives.  1 Bee Cozy is added to the bottom hive (4 boxes) and 2 overlapping Bee Cozys are added to the top hive (5 boxes). The Bee Cozy is designed for 10 frame equipment.  So, the Bee Cozy easily slips over my 8 frame boxes and cloake board with no effort.  This 2-Jan-2018 measurement point appears as a blue dot in the lower left corner of dots - Paver temperature equals 17.0°F and Top Vent temperature equals 31.0°F.  On the graph, think of the horizontal axis as outdoor temperature and vertical axis as the bee respiration temperature.

All graph points lie above the green line (x= y) which is consistent with an active and alive hive. Blue dots are measurements without the Bee Cozy and trend beneath orange dots which are measurements with the Bee Cozy.  Excluding a few points, the Bee Cozy consistently increases bee respiration (Top Vent) temperature.

Wondering why I went into winter with such a tall stack of boxes which requires step ladder beekeeping - there's no good reason other than lazy beekeeping.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

crush and strain simplified

bee, beekeeping, combcapper, crush and strain, escape, foundationless. walter t kelly, Strainer and Bottler, brushy mountain, escape, harvesting, honey, wax,
It's called crush and strain, but there are surrounding steps to this simple slogan.  My honey harvest starts with the bee escape and ends with bottling.  So that foam can rise before bottling, strained honey is left to sit for a few days. With just one 5 gallon bottler, lots of honey and a busy day job, I had to modify my sequential honey harvest process.

Lucky for me, Home Depot sells food safe 5 gallon buckets - I bought two buckets to store crushed comb (wax and honey).  When the bottler becomes available, then I pour crushed comb into the strainer bottler

I'm trying to avoid making a large horizontal sticky mess in the kitchen.   So, I work in the middle of the kitchen floor.  Imagine a compact vertical stack - from the bottom up: brown paper, 5 gallon bucket, combcapper and medium foundationless frame of capped honey. In under an hour, Melissa and Dillon help cut comb from 14 frames with a paring knife.  Comb is crushed in the bucket using 2 inch Plastic Joint Knife attached to a pole.

Friday, June 8, 2018

crush and strain with Combcapper

bee, beekeeping, combcapper, crush and strain, foundationless. walter t kelly, honey, wax,
Combcapper gadget simplified my crush and strain process.  I'm not using the supplied nail and cut the medium foundationless frame down in thirds, guiding each 1/3 piece by hand into the 5 gallon bucket.  The combcapper holds the frame securely - an essential element when using a sharp paring knife. Michael Willis, coworker and beekeeper, helped me in the kitchen extracting 12 frames which yielded 4 gallons of strained honey.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

record hive sound with OSBeehives


bee, beekeeping, crowdfunding, hive health estimation, screened bottom board, sound recording,

bee, beekeeping, crowdfunding, hive health estimation, screened bottom board, sound recording,

OSBeehives sells a solar powered in-hive detector which connects to WiFi and your smartphone.  A successful crowdfunding project, I used their free phone app to record the sound of my hives. Laying on my back, holding the iPhone beneath the screened bottom board, I made a sound recording of each hive.  The app analyzes the sound and categorizes the hive health into one of six states.