Friday, October 30, 2009

it's a wrap

Sort of ready for winter, here - not sure if I did this right, but November is 2 days away and I thought I better at least provide some cold protection for the bees. I want to add some straw bales for added protection, too. I'm thinking the tar paper should cover the bottom a bit more - but I didn't want to block the entrance....

Definitely still learning. A lot.
Monday, October 12, 2009

saving heat

I finally was able to put in my entrance reducers today. Life is busy! Hopefully now the bees will be able to heat their homes even more efficiently. I thought for awhile about which way I should put the opening... do they look like they're upside down? I'm not sure what's the best way, or if it matters. This hive didn't really care that I was putting in the entrance reducer - they're my weaker hive for sure.

If you look at this next pic, you can see the difference:

These ladies were mighty ticked with me - one stung my veil (not me), and another just clung to my veil and b*tched at me for awhile. They did not like having this thing stuck in their doorway, not at all. I'll check on Wednesday to see if they've managed to work together and shove the thing out, or if they've decided to live with it and cram the cracks with propolis.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009

lowering heating costs

On Saturday the 3rd, I went to the beeyard to feed one of my hives sugar syrup. They hadn't filled out the frames as well as they could have, and it's important for winter survival that they are full to maximum capacity. So, despite not wanting refined sugar in my life anymore, back in it came. In the top picture you see the hive with a honey super on top - I had to leave a space for the ziplock bag of sugar syrup between the frames and the lid. After Ken's comment on a previous post, I thought I better follow his recommendations, so I built myself a rim. I went to the beeyard today to feed them again, and switch over to the rim. That's the next pic, showing the rim I made, and the inner cover on top:

It makes more sense to have the least amount of empty space possible, because the bees have to heat up all the space in their hive. More space to heat means more energy expended by the bees, so they'll be eating more honey, and as a result they'll have less honey for the winter. The less honey they have for the winter, the more likely they are to die before the nectar flow in the spring.
Friday, October 2, 2009


It's been quite a few years since pennies held any fascination for me, but beekeeping has brought them once again to a significant place in my life. My first sting as an adult was in Ken's beeyard, and right away Steven put a penny on it for me. No swelling or pain. Weird! But wonderful. I started telling everyone who had the potential to be stung by a bee, that they should put a penny on it because it really works. My second bee sting, same story. Penny to the rescue yet again.

Along the way, people questioned what it was about the pennies that gave them these magical bee-sting-soothing powers. Some wondered if it mattered whether it was Canadian or American, or whether older or newer pennies were better. I had no idea, I just knew it worked for me.

Then.... my day of foolishness, tearing apart a beehive with only a veil as any significant sting protection. Well, the pennies didn't work so well that day. I thought because I had so much venom pumping through my system, perhaps the pennies were no match for it.

Well - here's a new piece of information from my fellow beekeeper Margaret, who also started beekeeping this spring:

I discovered the copper content of pennies is less than 5%, except the older coins (pre 1982 for the American ones) are 95%. I'm still skeptical about the copper cure.

Perhaps the level of copper makes a difference, or maybe it's all in my head, but I'd rather put a penny on it than a piece of onion. (That was Todd's trick.)

The photo above is of Margaret, scraping off the inner cover of one of her beehives. She rides her motorcycle to check her bees, and finds that the leather makes a good bee jacket!