Hive Diary / PART 6

Autumn’s amber harvest!

High whispy clouds, sunny warm “indian summer” days, high pressure off shore winds, pumpkin carving, Halloween, apple picking, raking leaves (if you got em) a slight chill to the early mornings and evenings and of course uncrowded fishing. These are all things I look forward to during my favorite part of each year. Well I can officially add one more great thing to look forward to for Fall / Autumn and that is a late honey harvest!

Mike came over roughly a week ago and harvested our honey out of our hive. Unfortunately I had to work that day so I was unable to participate in removing the frames from the hive and placing them in the centrifuge. There were not a lot to load but just enough to get a good and memorable supply of first harvest honey. Certainly enough to share with friends and family.

While I was unable to assist with the core extraction, Mike left the bulk honey in a 5 gallon bucket with spigot so our family could have fun and participate in jarring the honey. Mike also supplied us with 9oz. jars with lids.

We decided to pick a saturday to jar our honey so the whole family could participate. First observation, the honey was extremely thick – something Mike had noticed as well. Second observation, it was a dark amber color. This is not your golden Spring time honey! Third observation, this is an activity that the whole family can have fun with, from the pouring to the jar filling. Even the littlest of hands can help, especially to clean the empty bucket with their fingers!

We’ve even been able to come up with a custom label that will be applied to each of our jars announcing our special honey.

Bottom line, super fun and well worth the wait. I can almost guarantee that the best honey you’ll ever taste will be from your own hive’s first harvest!

A shout out to our honeybees, BRAVO and well done! All your hard work is sustaining your thriving hive and leaving a little left over to share with us. Thanks, you truly are the hardest working honeybees in Contra Costa County and you’ve been a great addition to the family!!!

The Hive Diary / PART 5

Houston we have capped honey!

Some of you may remember the last “Hive Dairy” where I expressed my excitement at the fact that I’d have honey very soon. That was back on June 27th!

Well mother nature and certainly Honeybees work in mysterious ways and can’t always be counted on to deliver the goods when you might predict they will. So (8) weeks later and we have confirmation that our Honeybees are in the Super and capping pure honey.

Mike, Ranch Foreman, came by to check the hive last week and said that almost half of our frames were drawn out with capped honey! This is great news. And I should have known as I was beginning to get very strong wafts of honey when near the hive recently – you literally can smell it.

So no predictions this time, it is just good to know that our bees are happy healthy and productive. Mike informed me that our hive was the most productive in the Lamorinda area. So perhaps we’ll get some jars of honey this season – PERHAPS!

Do you have a hive in the Lamorinda area? How is yours doing? Would be great to hear how other folks / apiarists are doing this season.

White House Honeybees

First ever honeybee hive is installed at the White House!

With the heated political environment these days, the last thing we wanted to do is go anywhere near the topic. But we did stumble upon one cool thing that does deserve some support and viewing. So Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Greens, lets all put our differences aside for a few minutes and watch a video highlighting the White House honeybees and their hive. Certainly something we all can agree upon, the support of the honeybee population.

Watch it here!

Hey! Just in case you are a beer lover (Brand Foreman is) take a look at this video too.

White House beer!

Hungry Honeybees

For those who have never seen a honeybee eat!

This short video was taken right after a harvest in the East Bay. There were a few drops of honey on a pan that Mike left out for the bees to eat up. And they definitely did. The most interesting part (IMHO) is watching them use their proboscis to lick/suck up the honey. Turns out there are a lot of critters out there that have them!!! Check out the link above.

Good buzzing audio on this too!

Enjoy!

The Hive Diary / PART 4

Super Time!!!

Mike, Ranch Foreman, came by the house late last week to do a check-up and determined that it was time to add the next two components to our thriving hive. He placed on the Queen excluder and the first medium super or “honey super” (Anatomy of a Hive). It is the top box and thin metal sheet you see on the pic below.

Up to this point the hive has been primarily working to sustain itself through the development of comb, honey and brood. With the addition of the Queen excluder, the honeybees can now travel up into the “honey super” and begin to build comb and make honey. Excluding the Queen from this area means that no brood or larvae will develop just leaving pure comb and honey! Whoooooo-hoooooooo!!! So excited.

So two important things to think about that are coming up in the not too distant future:

FIRST  > What kind of extraction party do we want to have? After all, this is a very fun and interesting event for those who have never witnessed honey being extracted. Just family? Neighbors? Good friends? Kids from Preschool?

SECOND > What will we call our own honey and what will our label look like? Surely we’ll be passing honey out to friends, family, neighbors, business associates, and we’ll want to come up with our own unique name and label. So far I’m liking the name “PLAFAYEZ GOLD”. More on name and label for a later post.

Lots of exciting and sweet things right around the corner!

The Hive Diary / PART 3

Our Bees have been busy!

Mike came over to our house in the East Bay last week to check in on the hive. I made sure that I was there to capture the moment. I wasn’t sure what kind of lens I should shoot with thinking my telephoto might be good from a distance. Mike cautiously assured me that I would not need that. I’m happy to report that he was right. His observation of many of his hives have been that the bees have pretty mellow so far (you’ll note he is not wearing gloves during this check).

Mike took off the lid of the hive which show cased some “burr comb”. This is comb the honeybees have made between or on top of the frames. In order to maintain the hive properly this “burr comb” needs to be removed – typically scraped off with a special tool. If you are lucky, there will be some honey in it to taste.

Mike checked the frames and said the hive was very healthy and looked to be productive. He added a second Brood Chamber on top and went on his way. If all goes according to plan, Mike thinks we may extract some honey in August.

I really enjoyed seeing the inner workings of an active hive first hand.