Journal archives for October 2012

October 22, 2012

Bees III

In Sue Hubble's book about beekeeping in the eastern mountain region, the bee's wrap up their supplies much earlier in the season than here: with the major honeyflow done by late July, and only a few crops of end of season weeds providing a last hit of nectar before frosts. For my colony there's been steady work up until the present. My second honey frame has just been filled. Greedy, against advice, I extracted a frame to sample their work. What i got was a quart of dark, strong-tasting honey that's hard to characterize in terms of any dominant flavor. It's hard not to scheme that they'd not miss the two gallons or so in the top box.

A friend had pleaded with me to use a queen-excluder above the second(or even first!) box to ensure frames without any brood. Hubble says that this is usually not strictly necessary, as most queens won't leave the lower apartments by choice or instinct. "Most" is the key word here; and with one colony the outcome is either 0 or 100%. Happily, the chance fell my way.

With the blessing, we are well set up for the colonies second season. I should be able to take gallons next year before summer. Next to my hive is an old redbud with a huge efflorescence each March. Redbud honey? Never heard of it, but it should be quite available in the earliest crop of spring. Hopefully it isn't odd or even downright bad tasting.

A worried thought is that my colonies' riding for a fall. I've heard of this happening to many despite the brightest of prospects. For the pessimists, it's reason to simply take all the honey. With such high mortality, the ancient way of simply killing the bees at the end of each summer actually seems rational--if a bit cold. Just write them off; or in a compromise many make, take all their clear honeyframes and give them a pot of corn syrup for the hungary months .

Next year I hope to make a better survey of what they're harvesting in the neighborhood. Now that I'm looking, it's evident that they have very strong preferences in nectar. Lists from books don't help all that much here: what they can eat doesn't predict much in the urban cafeteria of flowering plants. More than once I've seen a tree with the most inconspicuous of blooms buzzing with bees while nearby 'nectar gardens' are ignored. With luck, we shall see.

Posted on October 22, 2012 16:52 by icosahedron icosahedron | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment