Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bees and bulblets

On Saturday I was down to about 2 tablespoons of honey from last season.  Luckily, our three hives of bees have been working so hard this spring. (I just realized I have not named the new hive queen!)  Not only did I need some honey, the masses of bees that could not fit in the front door of Dolly's hive at night told me that I better get a third brood box on there, and soon.  So I got suited up, lit the smoker, and headed out to the bee yard with a medium, 8 frame box to add to Dolly for brood, and the only shallow, honey super frames I had: 4.  I brought a plastic container big enough to hold some loose honey frames, and good intentions to gather a full super or two of honey, plus 4 frames from other supers.  How soon we forget how to do even basic things!  You would think it had been 10 seasons rather than one since I last harvested honey.  

In Loretta's hive I found one super full of capped honey, plus more in the other supers.  Turned around to set them on the ground, only to remember that we had removed the cinderblock pad temporarily, as ants had nested in the dry spot underneath.  Peaked roof on this hive, so could not set it there.  Lets just say that I have reinforced the knowledge that it is a BAD idea to set a beehive super, covered in sticky propolis, down on the pine needle covered ground.  Oh, and you know what I forgot was going to be inside the honey super?  Thousands of bees . . . who knew??? (Geez, where was my head?)  I had forgotten to bring out the bee escapes necessary to start the process of getting the bees out of the hives.  Anyway, you now have the picture of what a seamless, well planned day it was in the hives.

Bottom line?  Dolly's hive has a whole new brood box to fill, I have 4 frames of capped honey, 2 from Dolly and 2 from Loretta, and each of them has two empty frames of wax to work.  The mostly full supers are on the top of the super pile for each hive now, and the more empty supers on the bottom.  Those 4 frames gave us just under a gallon of the most beautiful, lemon yellow, pale, spicy honey ever seen.  And I bought myself a week or two to actually prepare for a true honey harvest.     Here you see photos of two frames in the extractor, and fresh, new honey running out into the filter and bucket.  You also see a new friend who came to help clean out the spout after harvest.

In the garden, the tomatoes are really growing, and the leeks, though still small, started to go to seed.  Many of them were already too tough to use, but some were still tender enough for cooking.  Look at the tiny bulblets found at the base of one leek.  These have been planted, and a couple of leeks left in the ground to see if they will form more bulblets for a late summer planting.  Apparently spring is not the right time to plant leeks here.