I finally bottled the honey this morning. We got a total of 40 bears from our 35 pounds of honey. I thought I had bought 12 ounce bears back in 2005 from Betterbee, and so I just ordered a bunch more. It turns out I had bought one pounders, so now we have two sizes of bear. There are something like 260 left, so next year will be all 12 ouncers. Now we have to work on the labels and figure out how many of those we can actually sell, and where and how. New Hampshire Made has a program where you can list three items for sale on their website, with only a 10% fee that looks like it is worth investigating. Money in instead of money out!
Next I suited up and started fall cleanup on the hives. I wanted to check the feeding situation while there is still time to feed. The bee suit worked great until I got to the last, most populous, crankiest hive. Just as I got it all apart, they simultaneously found my right ankle, and somehow got inside both gloves and up the sleeve. The ankle is my own fault. I’m confused about the glove. Anyway, I reassembled the hive very quickly and got out of Dodge. I had to spend several minutes walking around out in front of the house until the bees gave up on me.
The status of the other hives. Leftmost: plenty of bees, they were putting nectar into the super that I’d left there for them to draw. They most definitely were not storing anything in the hive body. I also didn’t find much brood, although I’d seen a bunch when I looked on the 26th of August. Their feeder had been empty for awhile and they’re still storing, so I put a bee escape under the super so they’ll leave it. I wish I was sure they’re queenright.
Next hive. Queenless again, laying worker, again. But what looked like a batch of queen’s brood was emerging as I watched Still, this is pretty clearly a zombie hive. I’m not sure what to do about it. I’d like to get the hardware someplace mouseproof, but there are still as many bees as the package came with back in May.
Next hive, second from the right: Ignoring their super, which I pulled. Also not a lot of honey in the hive bodies, and a surprisingly poor drawing job on the plastic frames. I really thought I’d seen better when I put the first super on. I’m confused to the point of wondering if they pulled wax back off to do the super I did harvest.
Finally, the last hive. More bees than you can imagine, fairly hefty supers, and very cranky. As I mentioned above, I ended up beating a retreat from this one.
The rightmost hive is the only one I’m not pretty sure I need to feed. We need to have a talk, ladies. Only 35 pounds of honey, and I have to feed you?
To finish the bee exercise, Lisa wanted to get the cappings out of her kitchen. They’d gone there to drip out their honey, but that was weeks ago. I’d been googling around for alternatives to a solar wax melter. Solar anything gets iffy around here after the equinox. It seems that for the initial melt you can use hot water directly as an alternative to a double boiler. So we heated a pot of water and threw in not only the cappings but most of the wax we had on hand. We skimmed off a bunch of crud and the result is congealing on the back porch as I type. It came out quite yellow. This method did get rid of a bunch of impurities that the solar melter would apparently have kept. We’ll see if it still smells like beeswax.
[Added the next morning] We ended up with a disk a bit more than half an inch thick, two or three pounds by the feel. There’s brown crud stuck to top and bottom, but the wax itself is yellow not brown. This stuff should last indefinitely as it is., or we can make up some candles.
Apparently by coincidence, Bjarki got stung above his left eye today. I spent a lot of time surrounded by angry bees, but he was nowhere near me. Then again, they were probably not in a mood to put up with anything anywhere at the time. For a while, it looked like he had a golf ball just above his eye, and he was really worrying at it, was in obvious pain, so we took him to the vet to be on the safe side. By the time we actually got to the vet for a late afternoon appointment, the swelling was almost gone, and she agreed that it was most likely a bee sting, for which we do nothing.
For something completely different, we collected seven eggs today for the second day in a row. Our egg usage has been continually rising, but 4 dozen a week definitely gives us a surplus.