In my blog I plan to chat about nature, crafts, baking, gardening, beekeeping, family, and whatever else seems appropriate at the time. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Monday, September 23, 2013

S'more beekeeping lessons....winter prep!


Yesterday I started preparing my hives for the winter.   Most people think beekeeping is like having someone in assisted living....they think you just tuck them away and forget about them!  Not so.  Someone has to pick up their hearing aid batteries, their Depends, their ace bandages for their legs..you have to move furniture, order hospital beds, hang up their clothes.....
Oh.... 
wait a minute....
bees...
we're talking about bees.....
Sorry...  
So, Vickie came over yesterday to help me prepare the hives for winter.  I think she found it very interesting.
I'll show you best I can what she saw...but first what she didn't see.  Look close at this picture.  There are bees flying all around her.  She's focusing on getting the smokers going and I'm not sure she realized how many bees were buzzing around her.
 
 Ok look closely at this picture.  It's kind of like going to World Wide Wrestling!   See the bee...about the third one from the right, that is bigger than the rest?  We'll call him Hulk Hogan!  That bee is called a drone.  They do very little in a hive.  Their main job is to mate with the queen.  They don't even feed themselves. So Scary Sheri and her pals come up and beat him up and kick him out.  Who needs bigger bees that only think about sex, and don't lift a wing to help themselves in the winter months, right?  It's hard enough to get through the winter on your own!  This particular hive was kicking the drones out yesterday.  We were standing there watching them do this dirty deed.  It's kind of sad.  They fight to the finish and the drone always loses...eventually.  These ladies will chew off the drones wings if they must.  Their ruthless!
 Now look closely at this picture.  See the bee a little right of the center with the yellow on her.  She is carrying pollen into the hive.  When you see honeybees with those little "baskets" on their body colored like that, it's pollen.


To get a hive ready for the winter, you go through it and see if there is enough honey to last them through the winter.  They need honey in the bottom larger boxes, called hive bodies, and here in Indiana, they need honey in a super, which is the smaller box on top.
 I also put entrance reducers on the hives.  If you notice in the 2nd and third picture above, the entrance to the hives are wide open.  I covered their entrance with these little wooden 'frames' that my Shug made for my hives.  So that reduces the size of the entrance from all the way across the bottom, to just a small opening which is covered with wire.  We do this because right now, not only are the bees storing honey and pollen for winter, but they are fighting off yellow jackets, mice, and whatever other critters are trying to get their honey.  We actually saw a yellow jacket eat a honey bee yesterday too.  Vickie asked why they don't fight it off.  Yellow jackets will win over a honey bee every time.  It's a crazy time of year in the insect world peeps.  Anyway, making the entrance so small, makes it easier to protect their hive, and harder for animals and insects to get in their hive that doesn't belong.

 I was pretty impressed with this hive.  There is a lot of capped brood, which means there are a lot of 'babies' getting ready to be born.
 You do not usually find this much capped brood in a hive this time of year. 
 Can you see that bee coming up to my face to say Hi!  Neither did I until I looked at the picture! 
 I got through three of my hives, put all of my entrance reducers on, and plan on going through the rest of my hives this week.  I will pull some of the supers off of the hives because its just too much hive for them to keep warm all winter long.
 It's hard to explain....but in the summer months when you are extracting honey and it's so hot, and you are all suited up, you soak through your clothes with sweat, you're tired and you get burnt out.  Then this time of year, you get in the hives and get them ready for winter, and you know you won't see them again until next Spring...you miss them.  I know.  It's weird.  But it's true.  It's almost a zen kind of feeling when you are working the hives.   And this winter I will worry if they are alive and I will miss them.
 So what does chicken and hot dogs have to do with beekeeping.  Well, I'll tell ya.  Absolutely nothing!
 I had to show you this food my Shug grilled for us yesterday because it looked so perfect. He's our grill master!  Vickie and her husband, Robert, spent the day here.  We sent Robert into town for food while my Shug worked on the house, and Vickie and I worked in hives.  
 When we finished working we came down to a nice dinner, and a perfect campfire for marshmallows,
and I just happened to have everything on hand needed for s'mores.
 So I gotta ask ya...do you make your s'mores the old fashioned way with Hershey bars.....or the new fashioned way with Reese's peanut butter cups?
 Yesterday was the first time I made a s'more with a peanut butter cup and it was yummy.

 And do you burn your marshmallows....
or brown them?

Cindy Bee

5 comments:

  1. Love seeing your work with the bees, Cindy - it's fascinating.

    As to S'mores - never had one and not entirely sure what they are (maybe I'll google it later!)!!

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  2. Very interesting, Bee. I love hearing about the Bees that cause trouble.
    I like smores too, but never get to have them

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  3. Cindy, Thank you for taking care of those bees. I love bees. This year there's has been way more on my flowers than ever before, since I have lived here. They get on the sedum and the lavender. Your Sugg is a good cooking man. :):) xoxo,Susie

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  4. Your bee posts make me want bees! Oh and I'll have thost Reece's peanut butter cups too - absolute favourite of mine!

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  5. Lovely photos of the bees - a great little lesson. S'mores are a new thing to me, not sure what they are and anyway I'd have to omit the peanut butter as I'm allergic to nuts but hey I could always find a substitute! Philippa x

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Cindy Bee