Thursday, October 2, 2014

When It Gets Hot, Help The Bees.

It was 97 outside, the 111 refers to the window directly in the sunlight. This is close to the beach and 97 is an extreme temperature for the area.

I keep a pot with water and corks for landing pads for the bees. When the temps get up it requires topping off very often.  There are pebbles in the bottom and they do collect algae but the bees do not seem to mind.  The little rubber tube goes to a small tank pump that keeps the water circulating and mosquitoes do not lay eggs in moving water.

As I was taking pictures I noticed something reflecting light in an area where I had not splashed any water.  Close examination revealed it to be nectar flowing out of the hive before it got cured and capped.  I left it for the bees to fix and later tonight I will go out and wash off the area to try and not attract ants.   Robbing will be issue enough without ants added to the mix.
The nectar was dribbling out one side of the entry and down to the ground

Make sure they have water available when it gets hot.  These bees ignore this source when it is not hot but come looking for water when the temps hit 90 or so.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Having hidden bees in the city is not enough.  We have to get out and promote bee culture and inform the public when we can.  This was a "green" expo put on by the City of Torrance.  Laura brought her  bees and helped man the booth. 
Randy who ended up organizing our effort talking to Roberta.  Everyone came from the old Backwards Beekeepers but now belong to and.or Long Beach Beekeepers.  We cross pollinate between the groups to spread the bees news in Los Angeles.
What started out as a slow day got busy very quickly.  We had bees, pictures and samples of wax to show and offered free "local" honey tastings.   As I explained to most people who wanted to know where the honey came from, I could not testify it was from Torrance since the city does not allow bees.  But it was very, very local honey. Laura brought several package of small Popsicle sticks to use for tasting, about 200, and we ran out if them.

Laura brought a hive so the public could see how they are used.  Most people have no idea. having only seen stacks of "bee boxes" in orchards.
We had visitors from all over, including a Torrance Sister City in Japan. 

Every loved the taste of honey donated by Laura

Right next door was the chicken people.  they are trying to get city approval just like we are.  Bees and chickens had boards for comments which will get to the Cit council.
We even had a local bee stop by to sample the honey.   

Just keep those taster samples coming and you will get a crowd.  Next time we will be a little better organized and have some honey sticks to sell. 

 It was a good day, well attended and maybe we scored some more votes for bees in Torrance.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Processing Honey

This is where it all comes from, collected in February, about 16 frames of honey taken.
The honey and comb were clipped out of the frames and dropped into the buckets.  Important note: be sure to have lids on the buckets or you will collect too many bees along with your honey.  I usually leave the lid on for a day or so and then it is easier to remove the bees that are still left in.  Later I move the comb a piece at a time to another bucket so I remove any bees.
Next job is crushing the comb.  I use a scrapper made for removing tar paper but anything with an edge will do. A good supply of rubber or throw away gloves is handy too.  You will get honey on everything.  If you have an ant problem, draw a circle around your crush area using Comet or other cleanser powder, diatameceous earth or kids sidewalk chalk.  Ants do not like to cross those barriers,  there are sharp edges on the tiny bits that bothers ant feet.

This is my filter system. The top filter has a double screen of two sizes.  I got it from Brushy Mountain Bee Supply.  I picked up the top bucket at a swap meet.  The bottom bucket came from LA Honey has the honey gate on it.   Both of them are food grade buckets, the orange ones are not, just generic buckets from Home Depot. 
The crushed comb and honey is poured into the double strainer.  It takes a number of pours to process all the comb.   In time there will be a lot of small comb bits blocking the honey flow in the bottom wire strainer, moving that around with a rubber spatula makes the honey pass on.  Below the metal strainer you can see the bottom of the top bucket has a number of holes to allow the honey to pass through.  The lid on the bottom bucket has most of the material removed except the outer edge so the top bucket can rest on it.  Draining the honey is a long process but easier if the weather is warmer.  When the top strainer is has all the honey drained off, I put it into another bucket with a cloth paint strainer clipped to the top.  Over the long term more honey will drain out and gets added to the white bucket.   This is not only to get all the honey possible but the comb is easier to deal with the comb later for wax melting when most of the honey has been removed.
The start of the drip.  Be patient.  It will get there.
This is the collected honey,  the foam on the top occurs naturally as it drains into the bucket.  There is nothing wrong with the honey.  It is still good and not fermenting.

This is the best part, bottling the honey.  I do mine over the kitchen sink.  As I do it more often I get better about not have too many drips and filling the bottle properly.
The reward for all the hard work, 27 plus pounds of honey.
A new method to melt wax.   Get some heavy mesh or wire cloth.  Fit it over a roasting pan, add an inch or so of water to the pan.  Put paper towels over the mesh, add the comb and put in an over at 200 deg or so.   Do not do this at high temperatures.   Wax is very flammable and you can have a fire in your oven.  If you are melting wax on your stove top, use a double boiler.
So much for new methods.  As soon as I started to melt the wax in the oven, my stove died and the oven will not light.(new stove arriving next week.)  Moved the operation on to the BBQ as seen above.  Sounded like a good idea but the wax attracted too many bees and made a new problem.   I finished up doing it my old way using a crock pot with water and a paper towel over the top.  Now I can add a bit of metal cloth to hold the towels up.  Put the crock pot on high and leave it, check occasionally and add more wax until done.  This works just like the roasting pan/over approach but it takes longer.

I may collect a bit more honey in September but it will be only a couple frames if the bees seem to have plenty more stored.   My normal harvest occurs in March but with a mild Winter I got a good start this year. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hive Inspection Febuary 2014

New Beekeeper Alyssa experiencing the joy of pulling a full frame of honey.
It was a slow blog year in 2013.  Due to legal restrictions we shut down the Backwards Beekeepers Hotline and bee rescues dropped to almost zero.   The calls are being referred to This is a great group in the Los Angeles area working to get beekeeping approved in Los Angeles.

It has been a non-wet and often Summer-warm winter.   The bees had reduced activity but never stopped working all winter long.  Given the weather, an early inspection and honey collection was the plan.   I had great assistance from Ceebs Bailey of HoneyLove and new beekeeper Alyssa Archambault. 

It is good to have an attentive student,
Top box #6 (medium) had some comb but no capped honey, This is #5.

Lots of cross comb but that is a beek problem not the bees problem, these bees seem to like it.  It is their house.
Maybe the prettiest frame and another right behind it.

Ceebs pointing out something to Alyssa.

Ceebs showing Alyssa how the comb on one side is off set to the opposite side by looking through the comb towards the sun.  One on one mentoring is the best.

Some of the bees were just too busy to pay attention to us.  They were very calm when we worked #6-5. When we got to #4 they were much more active but some smoke helped and they calmed down a lot as soon as that box was replaced on the hive.

My water source, a small water pump in pot filled with rocks.  I have never seen a bee on it since it was put up about two years ago but it is there if they choose to use it.
While we worked the bees were still doing their thing too.
Last year the #5 box was solid capped honey.  This year that box had a lot of cross comb and blank spaces but we made up for that by pulling 4-5 frames from #4.   Rain is predicted for tomorrow and that will be a good time to crush and strain the honey.  I will not have any bees lurking about in the rain.
Thanks again to Ceebs and Alyssa who made it a much easier and pleasant inspection and collection.   Welcome back to The Buzz In The Dale.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Buttocal Beekeeping or doing the jerk

The name comes from the video.  It can be awkward when trying to work a hive and shot a video, camera placement is critical.  Sorry, I messed that up this time.  I have a fine palm tree stump to place tools and cameras on but then I ended up working with my back to the camera.
Lots of butt shots, a whole lot of butt shots.  too many butt shots.

The last time I have checked my hive was in March of this year when I took out a full super of honey.   The bees have been quite active and I wanted to do a check before Fall and see how they were doing.  If all the boxes were full I would pull another one, mainly I wanted to know how their food supply was for the next few months.

I try to get another body to help, not that it is difficult but a honey free camera person is a blessing.  I miss having Randy around, he is off to colder climes for the rest of the year.  I need to enlist another photog and less honey on my camera.

I have no idea what is going on here but in the preview mode the video is going sort of fast forward and jerky. No clue if that is deliberate but the video runs about ten minutes in normal mode. 

This does not look exciting.  The first thing of note is how long it took me to break the super loose.  There is something in the area that makes very strong propolis.  It took me three passes to break out the super. 
Next I started to pull a frame of honey but there was a lot of cross comb.  The frame honey was straight there were a lot of connecting bits between frames.  I removed a couple almost empty frames from the end, collected the bits of comb and honey off of them.
Then I decided to go ahead and collect one full frame (about 2/3 honey) and that grew into another full frame.  That was it.  I left three to four frames for the bees.

This is a shot of the comb after it has been crushed and ready to drain.   Being a home hive and not a wild or old one the comb is nice and light colored.  It should make some very pretty wax.   At the end I show some old crushed comb from and old hive, dark and black.  You can still get clean wax from it but that wax tends to be darker.

The Buzz is back!

This is what I got from the frame & half of honey.  There is some very nice bright wax too but it is still melting down.

Crock pot wax melter with paper towel filter.