Friday, October 29, 2010

Subject: blog

From: "Bob"
To: "Tim"
Sent: Fri, Oct 29, 2010 10:38 am

Subject: blog

Hey, no pictures of your helper!

From: "Tim"
To: "Bob"
Sent: Fri, Oct 29, 2010 10:40 am

Subject: Re: blog

I didn't have any that you weren't a blur in!

From: "Bob"
To: "Tim"
Sent: Fri, Oct 29, 2010 11:04 am

Subject: re: Re: blog

Your old man, the blur.

My old man, the (least) blur(ry picture I could find.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ohio Harvest

As I mentioned earlier (and didn't follow up on (like I promised I would (sorry))), I had a busy birthday weekend in late September, extracting, filtering, bottling (and eating) all the honey contained in these supers:

Full of tasties.

It was a bit of a light year. Three of the hives in Ohio are new after some harsh winter losses, so most of the harvest was from the oldest hive, which runs Minnesota Hygienic stock. Under the best of circumstances, each one of those medium supers can hold about 35 pounds, or 3-4 gallons of honey. This year, with most of the hives concentrating on building up enough stores for winter, the supers went on late and were only half filled by the time they were pulled off. It's important to remember that the bees NEED honey to survive the winter. They don't go to the trouble of making it just so that we can take it; each hive needs up to 80 pounds of honey to make it through the winter. Even with that, a strong hive might need supplemental feeding in the spring before the first nectar flow to jump start its brood-rearing.

Prior to my arrival, my dad had cleared the honey supers of bees and brought them to our house. As you can see, they were sealed up with an outer cover and several pots of geraniums, which served to keep curious bees from getting in and starting a feeding frenzy. They'd like nothing more than to take that honey back, so you have to be very careful and minimize the amount of time the frames of honey are out in the open. I missed a dime sized amount that dripped out of the first super as I was carrying it inside. Ten minutes later, this:

This probably warrants a women/fashion section joke (amirite?), but I'm not up to the task at the moment.

Braving the cloud of hungry bees, we slowly got through all the supers and sealed them back up. We like to recycle the comb, so they went back to the bees to clean out for a day and then into cold storage.  I'll be covering extraction methods (and storage) in their own articles, so for now, I'll leave you with some pictures from the harvest.

Super #1 and our Italian (shockingly, it didn't break down) tangential extractor.

Lookit dat honeeeeeey.  Awwww yeah!

Think Beiber can uncap honey like a pro?  I doubt it.

You spin me right round baby right round like an extractor baby right round round round.
You spin me right round baby right round spinning honey out of cells baby right round.

"Down the hole and through the filter to the bottling spigot we go," never made it as a nursery rhyme, but is germane to the subject at hand.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sweet Anticipation

Original illustration by E.H. Shepard

So they began going there, and after they had walked a little way Christopher Robin said:

"What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?"

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best?" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.

Excerpt from "The House at Pooh Corner" by A.A. Milne, 1928

Monday, October 18, 2010


I make a point of saying that a veil is the single most important piece of beekeeping equipment and that every beekeeper, regardless of experience, should use a veil every single time they inspect your bees. Getting stung on the face is an unpleasant experience for pretty much everyone. When it comes to safety, don't take shortcuts.

It's also important that you remember to secure your veil properly. If you forget to tie it down snugly or zip it fully, this is what may happen:


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Got any plans for Saturday?

If not, there is a whole bunch of cool beekeeping and urban ag stuff going on!

First, the 5th annual Red Hook Farm Harvest Festival is this Saturday from 10AM to 5PM. Featuring such activities as pumpkin carving and stuffing your face with food from The Good Fork, iCi, Rice, Kevin's and the Lobster Pound, there will also be live music performed by Bomba Yo!, Professor Louis, The Broken Arrowz, Rebel Diaz and more. On top of that, add a bunch of kid friendly activities (not the kid at heart kind), a locally sourced farmers market and seasonal food cooking demonstrations, and you've got a full (and fun) day.

Plus, you know, I'll be there. With bees. *toot, toot*

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In the News: CCD Research

Quite a number of you have sent me the recent New York Times article on the discovery of the cause of colony collapse disorder or CCD. Firstly, thanks to everyone who thought to send it in; I try to keep up on the news, but there is quite a bit of it. By sharing any beekeeping related tidbits you run across you not only help me keep up, but let me know what kind of things you are interested in.

I like that. I’d also like to share my interpretation of the paper and the reaction that followed.

So, as seems to be the norm in the news, the story has come across a little differently than it was originally intended. The title of the NYT article says it all: Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery. While I understand their enthusiasm, the actual research article on PLoS ONE makes no such claim. Rather, their research points to the combination of Nosema ceranae and an Invertebrate Iridescent Virus (IIV) as the proverbial straw that broke the camels back, NOT the exclusive causative agent of CCD.

In their relative small scale study (41 colonies) they found a statistically significant correlation between colonies suffering from CCD and a co-infection by nosema ceranae and IIV. The combination of both N. ceranae and IIV type 6 was detected in 100% of the collapsed or failing colonies in a small scale study done in 2006. Similarly, follow up studies on an observation hive undergoing collapse in 2007 and 9 colonies in Florida in 2008 showed that the combination was present in all colonies that collapsed.

Even with such a small sample size, such a strong connection is hard to ignore, but there is a fly (bee?) in the ointment for anyone who would like to believe that they found the one true cause of CCD.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Festival Pics

Cherise Fong stopped by my table and was kind enough to send in a few pictures that she took to share with anyone who couldn't make it.  Thanks!

If anyone else has pictures of my table, please send them in!  I didn't get a chance to step away and would love to see them and hear your impressions! table at the New New York Street Festival
Picture (c) Cherise Fong 2010, used with permission

Even Beekeepers eat.  In this case, a wild arugula salad with poached eggs, anchovies and homemade Caesar dressing.  I coddled the hell out of those dressing eggs.
Picture (c) Cherise Fong 2010, used with permission

Monday, October 4, 2010

Genius Beekeepers and Weekend Recap

First and foremost, I'd like to thank everyone who came out to the New New York Green Street Festival and stopped by my table, especially those people from my Beekeeping 101 class! A few of you actually had time to stay and help field questions for a while; I was both impressed with (and proud of) how many questions you were able to answer (and so well!) after a single class. Hopefully that means I'm doing something right!

It was a busy day and the traffic was constant (as were the questions), so if I missed yours, email me! I'll try to get back to you as soon as possible (and maybe share the answer with everyone else.) In fact, I was so busy answering bee questions that I didn't get a single picture of the observation hive or my table! If you took any, would you please share them with me? I'd love to put them up here on my blog for everyone to see!

On another note, it is a widely accepted fact that beekeepers are above average in both intelligence and looks. The MacArthur Foundation recently confirmed at least the former by awarding Marla Spivak a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, commonly known as the 'genius' grant for her work developing the 'Minnesota Hygienic' Italian Hybrid bee.

Read more about it here and be sure to watch the video: Marla Spivak @ The MacArthur Foundation