Friday, December 28, 2018

From our Hive to yours....

Well it is almost the end of yet...another year. 2018 flew by way to fast but i am told that is how it works once you get "over the hill".
It was rather a depressing beekeeping year for me. We lost all our bees coming out of winter, then ordered 2 Nucs to get going again and they were not that great. I struggled most of the summer to keep them alive. One didnt make it but the secnd one did and hopefully it makes it thru the winter. Last Feb i took a Webinar course through the Ministry of Agriculture on beekeeping, which i found very helpful and for 4 Saturday mornings, got me out of cleaning rooms. It was great.
Our local bee club decided we would take steps to become a "real club" so next month the elections will begin. I also joined the local Farmers Institute.
So whats new for Riverside Apiary in 2019, (all going well) there will be some exciting changes. Hopefully retirement is just around the corner. If that is true (and it better bee) we will be moving back to Dome Creek. I am ordering 4 packages of bees this winter in anticipation of retirement. I will be able to dedicate all my spare time to my bees (oh i guess i should probably spend some time on domestic duties and gardens too) and making a great apiary for them. There is a orchard in the works, so far only in my cluttered mind and a bee house. So lots to do.

Anyways, i just wanted to get one last babble in before the year ended. So from our hive to yours...we wish you a very happy New Year, may it be filled with good health and much happiness.

A special gift from a special person

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Merry Christmas from our hive to yours

Christmas is almost upon us and the winter has been a kind and gentle far.  But holy moly....the wind. We have never had such winds and for such a long time. Its been blowing now for around 3 weeks, thankfully its not -20C.
The bees are tucked away in their cozy coat and i am hoping for the best that they will survive the winter and come out strong in the spring.  After last winter i have lost a bit of my confidence of wintering bees over.
Since i didnt have enough honey to give as gifts, i made a batch of Cinnamon Honey Butter. If you are a fan of Cinnamon Toast then you will love this. (pictured below) If you would like the recipe, drop me a line.

 Creamy Cinnamon Honey Butter

 Anyways I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and hope the new year is filled with much happiness and good health. See you next year.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Mead Mead and more Mead

Are you kiddin me! Is it really Nov 12. How did this happen.  Its been a long time since i wrote anything, but then nothing much was going on so i didn't want to bore you with a bunch of "fluff".
We finally got the bee yard cleaned up and the bees put to bed for the winter. Like last year we have made sure we could move them incase this never-ending motel sale goes through. We moved the hives onto 2 stacked pallets so if the bottom one freezes to the ground...we can pick up the top one.  We even wrapped them differently this year. I read a article about how someone from Prince George wraps their bees and did my version of his method. I hope it works. It has 3 layers. Pink fiberglass insulation, then a layer of silver bubble wrap insulation then a thicker plastic over top to keep the insulation dry. I have left them lots of honey, 8lbs of candy board and some fondant and hopefully that will keep them fed for the winter. Once again  i say a little prayer they will make it through our long unpredictable winter, and see them again in the spring.

So what am i up to this winter....... Mead Mead and more Mead
Mead is believed to be 1000's of years old and one of the oldest known alcohols. It is also know as Honey Wine. It is made simply of honey, water and yeast.

Only a couple weeks old.
 The latest project i have been working on is a new batch of Mead. This time i wanted to try a Bochet (pronounced Bow Shay) its made by caramelizing the honey for a long period of time.
The first batch I made i cooked the honey for 20 minutes, then a friend and i made a second batch cooking the honey for 30 minutes this time. We will do a taste test when we rack them off in about 4 weeks.  Earlier this year i had decided to make a gallon of Traditional mead. It has been resting since March so we decided it was time we try it again and holy cow it was good. I was sort of impressed. Not that i am counting or anything.... but only 11 more days until i get to sample the Bochet...yum.
Bye for now

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Never give up

After coming out of winter with 2 dead hives and feeling like i was not a good beekeeper, i brushed myself off and got back up.
The place i had ordered a nuc from in the New Year had suffered losses also and couldn't supply me with bees. So i desperately searched for a new source. I found someone who was bringing up a large amount of nucs from the lower mainland. So i ordered 2.
To make a long story short, the bees weren't in very good shape. One hive was better than the other. One struggled since i got them, they hardly expanded their numbers, very little pollen was brought in and no capped honey.  I tried all i could to save them. We even sent some questionable larvae to the lab. A mite test showed they were infested big time. And even after treatment, nothing could be done to save them. The lab test showed nothing like AFB or EFB. The inspector figured it was a mite related virus. I felt sooo defeated.
Thankfully the other hive seems to be doing good.  And even though they still have chalk brood, the hive is large and vigorous. They have a good amount of capped honey and a good amount of bees so if there is a bee god...they will make it through the winter.
The summer has been a horrible one. It started off really hot, then it cooled down. Then we were socked in with smoke for a weeks. Now, here it is Sept 12 and we had snow today, yes you heard me SNOW. Although it was only mixed in with the rain, the snow is half way down the mountain. Last night on the weather we had heard of minus temperatures over the next couple days, so after the news i went out and gave the girls another frame of partially capped honey and wrapped the bottom 2 boxes with the silver bubble wrap insulation. This should keep them comfortable until better weather returns.  Winter can't possibly be coming already.....right?

Here it is Sept 29th now. Fall is definitely in the air. We have had many frosts, but yesterday and today we are blessed with having sunshine. Today the bees are out and about, scrambling to get ready for winter and kicking out the boys before they eat them out of house and home. Poor boys :(
Anyways, with the threat of minus temperatures arriving soon, its time to get the candy boards done and deciding on what form of winter wraps will be going on this winter.  Well....that's all for now, i am going outside to enjoy this beeutiful Autumn day.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The quirky things us beekeepers do

If anyone was to really take a look inside my car, they might wonder why i have 3 Rubbermaid containers stuffed full of frames of honey. The have taken up residency there for the past 3 months, it was yet another project i started and never completed.
Being a owner of a Motel...your time is never really your own and even a well laid out idea never goes as planned.
I saw on a facebook page i belong to,  a very clever beekeeper in Terrace would put his frames of honey in his wifes car to warm up so when he went to extract them, the honey would flow easier. I thought this was a brilliant idea. So thats when i brought out all the frames from my hives that had died during the winter and put them in the car to warm up. And there they sit and wait. I decided once things slowed down i would extract them.
In the mean time as summer went on, i noticed my 2 new nucs were struggling. Well one is doing better than the other one, but it got me thinking. I may need to add some frames of honey for the winter in the new boxes. So now they sit a little longer, but this time. I am thankful for those leftover frames of honey.
So here it is Sept 1st. My weak hive died and I am now down to 1 lonely hive. Thankfully they are doing good, and I am pretty sure they have a good supply of honey stored. Next week when i inspect them i will look through the honey super and make sure. If need bee i will add capped honey for the winter. I am so thankful to have these extra frames of honey.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A little of this....a little of that

After receiving a phone call from a fellow beekeeper regarding a swarm that had landed in his yard. I got to thinking how i would love to capture a swarm of (other than my own) honey bees. I normally have a empty box sitting in the bee yard for those "just in case" moments that happen to come along once in a while, but thought i should get a little more serious.
Earlier in the season i purchased a nuc box, with bottom board and inside cover, which sat in my bee yard empty. So after my friend captured his swarm, i went out and loaded it full of drawn out sticky frames...that should do it. I had also picked up some lemongrass essential oil,  from what i read its a similar smell to the pheromones the queens put off. So i baited the box with some lemongrass oil on a cotton ball.
In the mean time James and I started cleaning up the firewood area next to the bee yard and there was a stump from a bug kill pine still standing there. After a little discussion, we decided to put the swarm box on top of it. 
"Swarm box"

That night i was reading something on one of the beekeeping sites about swarm bait. This person mixed olive oil, beeswax and lemon grass oil together and made a swarm bait from that. The lemon grass doesn't evaporate as quick as it does if you just dribble it on a cotton ball. So i gave it a try.  
Ingrediants for the swarm lure

I might of added a little too much beeswax but its not a big deal, i just need to slightly warm in to make it spreadable.,

So i am bound and determined to "conquer" the smoker. I can get it lit but when i need it, its out. So because of that, i rarely i use it.  But there are times when a little smoke goes a long way. So after reading lots of articles, watching you tube videos, i have decided to try burlap.
Its old school but works great, they say. 
Well it just happens, down the road a few blocks is the home of a coffee roaster. Her coffee rocks and best of all, all her beans still come in burlap sacks. So i asked to buy 4 sacks, (which should last 2 life times). When i got them home i could feel coffee beans in a couple of the sack. So i poured them into a pan. They are odd looking little greenish colored things, they look or smell nothing like the coffee we all know so well.
Well that night, i wondered if I could roast these little green beans. Turns out its simple. So that night i roasted my beans (all 1 cup of them). The next day we ground some up and sampled them....and they were pretty darn good. So dark and oily....yum
Home roasted coffee beans

Anyways, its been a fun week of trying new things. The bees are happy, the queen is laying good, i am ready if a swarm happens by and while i sit and make notes, we can enjoy a cup of home roasted coffee. Enjoy your summer, will chat again soon

Saturday, June 9, 2018

All a buzz

Things are a buzz once again at Riverside Apiary (or Bell Mountain Motel as everyone knows us by). The 2 Nucs finally arrived and they were big healthy looking hives. I was thrilled. 
No more am I making endless trips into the linen room to watch the bubbles in the mead. I can now wander over with coffee in hand and stare at the bees. (Much more acceptable than watching bubbles)

So last Sunday we picked the nucs up and I got to work putting them in their boxes right away.The weather had been so warm 2 weeks ago but the last little while, it has been chilly. I didnt even spend a lot of time searching for the queen. I just did a quick check and tucked them in their new houses.

The next day it was really cold and i felt bad for them so i went in the shop and found some silver bubble wrap insulation and made them little "sweaters" for their brood box. I think i am going to leave it until this crazy weather straightens out. In the box on top, is a empty super with a feeder for them until the weather improves.

So todays project was the Mead. My old friend who kept me occupied while waiting for the bees to arrive. I wanted to get it out of its gallon jug and into a clean one. There was lots of sludge in the bottom and the 10 raisins that were in there were kinda nasty looking. So i dug out the other jug and transferred it over there. I took the opportunity to have a wee nip of it and for only being 3 months old. It tasted pretty good. Anyways, that's about it for now. Chat again soon.

Mead 3 months, before i put in a clean bottle