To help the honey bees survive winter, we added bee candy to their hives. The candy is made of sugar, water, and high protein pollen substitute; and it’s placed at the top of the hive in winter - ready for the bees should they exhaust their honey reserves.
We mixed 1 1/2 lbs. of water with 8 lbs. of sugar; and then heated to a slow boil while stirring. At about 220 – 230°F, candy consistency should be achieved.
After reaching candy consistency, the mixture gets taken off the heat and 1 lb. of high protein pollen substitute is added.
We chose to put the candy in the deep side of two-sided inner cover. In the [...]
Continue reading Making Bee Candy
Several weeks ago, we captured a wild honey bee swarm and brought it home (see Wild Bee Capture) – it’s the first hive in the picture below.
Because it’s early fall, we’re concerned that this hive won’t be strong enough to make it through the winter, so we decided to add bees and brood to the hive by “papering in” a brood super taken from a stronger hive (the one on the far end in the picture above).
To survive winter in Northeast Ohio, a hive needs to be around 35,000 bees strong now and have about 70 pounds of honey stored away. To give the [...]
Continue reading Bolstering A Beehive – “Papering In” Bees
Last Thursday evening, Bramblestone Farm received a call – wondering whether we could remove a bee swarm. We’ve actually received quite a few calls on bee swarms, but this was the first that was nearby and Friday was a day off for us, so Randy agreed to go get them in the morning.
It was a nice size swarm (around the size of a football), and was located in a branch about 10 feet above ground (it was also near a swing-set which was one major reason it needed to go). The location made it a pretty easy swarm to capture, Randy just took a five-gallon pail up [...]
Continue reading Wild Bee Capture
Who’d have thought? We entered our honey at the fair because the Medina Beekeepers Association requires you to enter if you want to sell honey at the fair booth. But, with so many very experienced beekeepers also entering (the Medina Beekeepers Association is a very large and strong group) we figured there was no chance that Bramblestone honey would bring home a ribbon. So, we were absolutely shocked to see this ribbon on our honey!
Maybe the blue ribbon is beginner’s luck (it scored 89 points out of a possible 100) - but I think that the Medina Beekeepers have been very good teachers, we’re lucky to live in a location [...]
Continue reading Bramblestone’s Blue Ribbon Honey
After extracting 83 pounds of honey from the honey bee hive the first time (see Honey Harvest), the question comes up – how can you substitute honey for sugar when baking?
It turns out that you can, but you’re adding liquid – so the recipe has to be adjusted to accommodate the liquid. You can substitute honey for up to half the granulated sugar in a recipe, but for every cup of honey that’s used; the nonsweet liquid should be reduced by 1/4 cup, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda should be added, and the oven temperature should be lowered by 25°F.
So far, this has worked for us – what other rules of thumb [...]
Continue reading Substituting Honey for Sugar in Baking
The honey bees have been hard at work this year, so Saturday we harvested the first honey from the hives. First, the frames filled with honey were collected (making sure to leave enough for the bees):
Then an electric de-capping knife was used to cut the caps off of the filled honey cells:
The frames were then placed into a honey centrifuge:
After centrifuging, the honey collects at the bottom of the stainless steel drum and is drawn off:
The raw honey is then filtered through coarse, medium, and fine filters; and bottled:
And the final product - we harvested 82 lbs. - isn’t it amazing what those little bees can do?
Thinking of adding honey bees to your backyard? Here are the some questions to ask before committing to beekeeping (we didn’t necessarily think of all these before adding ours):
Have you discussed this with all your family members? The bees will have an impact, so make sure everyone’s onboard – or at least somewhat willing to have them around.
Are honey bees legal where you intend to put them? Not all cities, townships, or homeowner associations allow honey bees, so be sure to check before acquiring your bees.
What does your homeowner’s insurance policy say? Some insurance companies have real issues with beekeeping [...]
Continue reading Beginning Beekeeping – Important Questions
I recently learned about a powerful tool for improving our gardening and beekeeping abilities. It’s called Phenology, and it’s a method of predicting 1) when to plant crop seeds, 2) when the bees will bring in nectar, 3) what kind of nectar they’ll be bringing in (i.e. what kind of honey it will be), 4) when to start controlling detrimental insects, 5) when weeds will emerge, and 6) many more things!
It utilizes temperature as a predictor because plant growth and insect emergence depend on temperature. “Growing degree-days” (GDD) are used as the predictive measure, and by knowing the GDD for your area on a [...]
Continue reading Awesome Predictive Tool – Phenology
We inspected the hives for the third time today; and were really happy with what we found. When establishing a new hive, it’s obviously extremely important to have a queen that’s laying eggs, workers that are feeding the resulting larvae, and new bees that are emerging. Today, we found lots of eggs (the little white things in the bottom of the cells below):
There were eggs that had matured to the larval stage (the larger white things in the bottom of the cells in the lower left below):
Many larval cells had been capped off; which means new bees will be emerging soon (actually some may already be emerging):
And the [...]
Continue reading Third Hive Inspection
We (well mostly Randy) spent the past weekend getting honeybees into hives. First, we picked up two 3 lb. boxes of bees (the picture below is of one 3 lb. box), and hive parts:
Next, the hive parts that will be exposed to the elements were primed and painted. It would have been better to have this step done before picking up the bees, so they could immediately be hived, but they survived:
Hive stands were constructed to get the hives off the ground, and help protect the honeybees from predators:
The picture below shows the hive assembled – waiting for the bees. Note the “shoes” on the bottom of the [...]
Continue reading Hiving Honeybees