Little bees, big honey

We ran out of jars, and just stuck to the 5 gallon buckets. Which we have 3 on deck ready to bottle.

We got over 20 gallons, which is approximately 292 pounds. Not enough to sell, but will be fun for gifts, and to keep us in honey for a while.

The flowers that contributed to the harvest were: Mesquite, Huisache, Horsemint, Yaupon, clover, and other assorted wild flowers.

It’s Honey Time again

I went back through some of my old photos.  We’ve evolved for sure over the last 4 years of bee keeping.

It’s time to go get the honey.  I hope we have a good harvest.

It’s amazing how honey can be so different, from the light and sweet to the dark and smokey.

Bees are pretty cool.

A couple of Days in the Bee yard

A tale of 4 Queens, my own Game of Thrones Episode!

We started off with 4 new Queens, to reclaim our right to the Iron Throne. Ha. Not really.

We have a bit of an issue with Africanized Bees in our apiary. If something happens to one of our queens, and the hive Re-queens itself, that new queen mates with the local drones, and we end of with a very aggressive, angry hive. We have to keep careful eyes on our girls, or they could end up in a bad relationship! We don’t need any useless sons of incest here! You are welcome Sansa.

In Bee-Keeper folk lore, hive hygiene comes from the queen, and attitude comes from the drone. Most of the bee keepers in our area Re-Queen every year for the angry bee issue. What we have to do to grow our bee population is to the split our big hives, and add a new queen.

Regicide, is how we eliminate the 1 Angry Queen. It was a Kings Landing scene. The City was sacked. The population were turned out in search of the queen, and she was left in a rubble heap. This hive, being so aggressive, we had to take extreme measures to ensure that we got the queen.

We leave that hive queen-less for at least 24 hours, and then introduce them to a new queen via a queen cage. She is protected by the cage, the hive gets used to her particular pheromone, and then she and her entourage are released into the hive to reign. This angry hive was more docile and cooperate after the destruction. I’m very hopeful for good success.

We had one hive that had obviously lost their queen, and couldn’t make a new one. We cleaned that one up, and introduced them to their new Khaleesi. They were so sweet. We gave them two new frames of brood, and got rid of a wax worm infested frame. And we gave them some new sisters to help them get reestablished.

The we took two of our really big hives, and borrowed some brood, and some of their lovely bees, and made two new hives. We created two new boxes from there, and added our lovely young queens to guide them on their journey. Our Wildlings making new residences South of the Wall.

Sorry for all the corny Game of Throne references, but they seemed appropriate.

It was really hot and sweaty work. 88 degrees and 80% humidity gave us heat indices into the high 90’s. Winter is not coming here for a while.

This is what I’ve got right now!

A Blessed Memorial Day Weekend to all. God Bless all those that fell in combat and their families. We thank you all for your service and sacrifice.

What do you want?

I want to enjoy selfies with my cousin. All I want to do with this picture is fix my neck.

It was an awesome day, and so much fun, but I can’t get past my selfie, cause It’s horrible, and not how I see myself. I’d like to be comfortable with my image.

I would love to have a view, in a comfortable home to enjoy en perpetuity.

Swag. I’d love to have a swag when I walk in the door as good as Bugs in a Dress!

I want to hang out with the bees. I think I’d like to just get off by myself for a bit and be just me.

I think they will get coal this year

Image from Facebook.

Back from the bee yard

I smell of wood smoke and honey. I’m sweaty, tired, and swollen.

Limping a bit from the 8 stings this weekend.

The first 5 yesterday left my heart racing, probably from the adrenaline. The three today just ticked me off.

I’m getting an Epi Penn before we go back out.

Why they like my left thigh, and backside?……Those girls are wicked. I think some of that venom went straight to an artery. Two stings on top of each other. I’m polka dotted with dark pink 5″ diameter swollen marks.

If they hang their stockings out….They are getting coal.

Haven’t they heard “don’t bite the hand that feeds you?”

Or in my case, ‘butt’. They tore me up yesterday and today as we feed them for winter.

It takes the ultimate patience to get over being stung by the bees I strive to keep alive.

Momma might order some new queens for Spring…..time for a regime change in the bee yard.

Santa, Can I get some new Queens for Christmas?

A Day in the Bee yard

It’s been a really dry August, and everything is struggling. We are supplemental feeding and keeping an eye on the stressful hives.

It was a crunchy day in the country. I was concerned on the cracks in the soil and the level of the pond. But we’ve got some rain coming. I hope it soaks in well.

Today I’m grateful for a little rain in Houston. I love the sound of rain.

Let’s hope the rain makes it 100 miles west. We need it there too.

Stings, Stalkers, the bees stung my Bee-hind.

That’s just one of them, within 30 minutes of the sting. I’d show the rest, but they are on my butt, inner thighs, and got dangerously close to a very sensitive area.

Nothing will get you moving faster than a bee sting closing in between your legs.

An hour later the sting is 4 times it’s initial size. And my thighs and backside are burning now, swollen, and did I mention burning? I’m glad I got the baking soda paste on as soon as I did.

9 total this time. The girls were not happy, and I had about 12 following me all around the bee yard. I call it “stalking”. They are put out, and follow us around dive bombing our veils, hitting our jackets, expressing their discontent until they are certain that we understand their distress.

Well, this time I got ticked off, because we hadn’t done anything more than put in beetle traps. We didn’t remove frames, we didn’t steal honey, we didn’t even pull anything apart. Quick in and out to help them keep the other bugs off of them.

What did I do when the bees came after me?

First, I squelched the impulse to panic and burn down the hive.

Second, I kept talking to them, and made sure they knew I was calm.

Third, I got out of the bee yard as soon as possible, followed by the hive ‘stalkers’.

I got to the cabin, took off my jeans, treated my stings with baking soda and water paste and took an antihistamine. I changed my jeans from dark denim (which they don’t like) to white canvas Dickey work pants, and went back out. Those little bees were not having the last word, not by any means. Canvas is harder to sting through than jeans. No doubt.

As soon as I stepped foot back across the pond, the Stalkers decided that I hadn’t learned my lesson, and began harassing me again. They didn’t make it back to the hive. I can put up with a lot, but I’m not putting up with an aggressive hive. That queen will be replaced next week. 9 stings, and two stalking

This was one of the nice hives today. But you can see how active they are early in the morning.

Bee keeping has it’s ups and downs. Today was a bit of a down day, but I couldn’t let those bugs have the last say in how my day went.

Sitting might be an issue for the next couple of days, darn it.

Today I’m grateful that I’m not allergic to bees, and that I went back out into the yard.

Chainsaws and bees

 

We are always very careful about running loud machinery around the beehives.  Bees are sensitive to loud vibrating sounds, light in their dark hives, scents that they don’t know, and any other thing a female group could be sensitive.  Just saying, this is a whole lot of girls to keep happy.

Imagine the surprise at opening a log with a chainsaw, and not being immediately attacked?  What?

The friendliest bees in S. Texas are were in a log, and now they are getting comfy in a box with all their brood, bees, queen, and some sugar for being so sweet.

What amazing creatures.

I’m so grateful for this experience.  Even when it doesn’t go so well, or when we get together with some Kranky gals, I’m still amazed by how they work, what they do, how they produce, and how sweet they can be when I least deserve it.

Have I been stung, you bet.  Did I deserve it?  Mostly, but sometimes these gals are just horrid, and it takes some management to get the disposition of the hive to turn.  Yep, it’s a Regicide.  The queen is a gonner if the hive gets mean, because she is the driver.

Do I understand, Nope?  I’m just working the best that I can.

img_1652

 

This is a photo I took a few weeks ago when we were feeding.  She smelled the sugar on my hands and stopped  by to see what was left.  No stings, no fuss, just a drop in to see what was up.

I really like my bees.  Isn’t she beautiful?

I’m also very grateful that most of my encounters with bees have been quite pleasant.  They are amazing little creatures.

My little friend

Making new friends on a beautiful day in the bee yard.

I had just put the sugar syrup in the feeder, and had some on my hands.

We hung out while she had a snack.  Isn’t she pretty?