Sunday, July 18, 2010

Croesus' Gold

There's so much of it and it's all mine, mine, mine! .... Well no. It's ours... all ours.

I felt like Croesus with his gold and I wanted to keep it all. Our precious bees had worked so hard to make all the honey that I didn't want to part with it.

Then Dad reminds me once more that we have so much honey we should be selling it. "We need labels," he said. He has not given up on his label making campaign.

Actually our jars do have labels. That is if a piece of masking tape with the year and a couple initials written on it counts. I think it should.

Our honey has three flavours. The first batch has a distinctive taste of a vegetable nature but it's quite nice and the vegetable part is very subtle.

The second batch has primarily a clover flavour with a floral trace and the third, my favourite which we extracted today, is pure summer flowers. It's pretty wonderful.

This is really our first time at this since last year was literally a wash out with all the rain we had.

As well, the hives had started from nucs so they didn't produce much honey.

I've learned that honey has it's strongest flavour and smell when it comes fresh from the combs right after the caps are cut off. Later, it's still great but there's something special about eating honey from still-warm combs. The vegetable honey I mentioned before was quite strong that first day we extracted it. I wasn't so sure about that honey. But two days later it had mellowed considerably.

We did an extraction yesterday and again today on hives #1 and #2. The bees have been great both days. Yesterday a pop-up storm came in and we had claps of thunder and dark clouds which showed up just after we took the hive apart. Figures.

I tried not to rush and keep being gentle with the bees. The storm just passed us to the east and we had another hour of clear weather. Then a second storm came in with wind, etc., just as we were finishing. During all this the bees remained calm and gentle with no stings. They're so amazing. I thought they'd start to panic with a storm approaching and the hive opened up but they didn't. They were more calm than I was.

103 lbs our first extract a couple weeks ago, 60 lbs on our second (yesterday) and 65 lbs on our third--this is 2 hives and we've still left 1 full super on each hive which we'll extract in the fall once I'm certain the bees have enough for themselves for winter.

I'm pretty certain Hive #2 swarmed because of low numbers. They still had lots of honey filled frames but it wasn't all capped. We left half of it for them to finish capping. Our honey is very thick and dry this year (moisture at 16%) so a little uncapped honey added shouldn't be a problem.

We stacked our jars on the counter. Dad said, "We can't eat all this. We need to sell some."

I looked over the rows and rows of jars, thinking about the giant pails we'd filled that day that still needed bottling. "This is more than we can eat," I said.
"Yes," said Dad.

I think I'm going to have to get to work on that label.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oh, it's been hot!

It's been quite the heat wave over all of North America.
The Weather Network channel shows a map of our country all lit up in red and yellow... the hot colours.
And for good reason. Our temperatures have remained in the mid 30's.
This wouldn't bee so bad except for the humidex which made the temperature feel more like 40 degrees Celsius.
And the bees, were hot too. They were bearding all over the outside of the hive trying to stay cool.
They were even hanging in a cluster that looked like a swarm cluster, but it wasn't.
I worried about how the bees pile up on each other when outside the hive. To me it looked the the beginning of a swarm cluster.
If they were hot why would they pile up onto each other like that? An experienced beekeeper pointed that it's not the bees that are hot, it's the inside of the hive. That's why they came out.

Here's some video of bees ventilating the hive when I took the cover off.
You can actually see the oscillation of their wings in different directions.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I've Created a Monster

It always starts small and innocent doesn't it?

Dad would help out here and there, picking up heavy supers and holding frames as I pulled them from the hives. Then he started working on the second hive. Eventually he announced that he too was a beekeeper and my partner for our honey business.

Next thing I knew the second hive became "his" hive.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg...

"What are we going to call the company", he asked. "We need a company name for when we sell the honey."

"I've already registered the hives under my business name," I said, "before you came on board."

"We need a label then for our jars too."

"I know and I will make one."

"We need a label now."

"I will make one but in the fall when I have more time. For now if we have extra honey we'll sell only to family and friends."

That seemed to placate him.

Then we extracted honey from my hive. Dad declared that he was going to keep all the honey from "his" hive.

"You're not going to share it with me?" I asked.

Long pause.

"You have your own hive," he said.

But when we finished extracting 30 lbs of honey from my hive Dad looked at that pail filled with the fragrant amber liquid and asked, "Could I have some?"

"But you said you were keeping all your honey for yourself. That means this is my honey."

He'd caught himself on that one. Decision time. "His" or "Ours". He opted to call all the honey ours and he got his jar filled to take home.

Then I informed Dad that the honey from both hives would be blended once we started extracting the supers from his hive.

"Would that be okay?" I asked.

Long pause.

"I guess so."

We ended up with 103 lbs of honey from the two hives (3 1/2 medium supers) and we were tired.

The honey is delicious. I'm glad the bees didn't mind sharing. We didn't get a single sting or act of aggression while we took the supers.

"We have lots of honey to sell," Dad said.

I sat there feeling like Croesus with all his precious gold. I was appreciating all the hard work the bees had done. I didn't want to part with the honey. Not just yet. "I don't think there's enough to sell. We can eat all this honey."

"Oh no, this is more than we can eat. We just need a label for our jars."

Yes, I've created a monster.