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Helluva' Honey Year


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7 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Nylanderiavividula - Posted May 26 2019 - 5:25 PM

Nylanderiavividula

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Well, we got started pulling honey this past weekend (Friday).  The first and only apiary we hit is one that does unusually well compared to the rest (placement, placement, placement!).  I anticipated pulling around nine full medium supers from around seven of the ten hives in in the apiary, but we ended up with twelve!  We didn't pull from all ten because three of them had some queen issues earlier on in the season and did not produce past a deep and a medium (we pull honey from above that...so if it's deep, medium, medium, medium, then we would pull the last two mediums).  But twelve full medium supers was around 36 gallons of honey!  We are not a large outfit, so that's a decent amount for us to have to uncap, extract, strain, settle, and bottle.  We have a decent 20 frame, motorized, radial extractor, but it's still a lot of work to uncap all those frames with capping scratchers (we don't use hot knives because we don't run nine and eight frames in ten frame supers, we run ten)!  Anyhow, we have three more apiaries to go, and we are expecting around fifteen supers from them, combined!  So it looks like the spring pull is going to go up towards seventy gallons!  This is pretty exciting for us because our norm is a spring and fall of around 40 gallons for the year.  So we're smashing our normal year record in just the spring season...  For the southeast, the spring season has been very good to beekeepers who keep for honey production (which probably means it was good for the package makers, pollinator guys, and queen-rearers as well).  I'm excited to see what we wind up with...but I am a little apprehensive about facing the uncapping job for MORE FRAMES!


  • AntPhycho likes this
Camponotus castaneus
Camponotus chromaiodes (Pretty sure...)
Brachymyrmex patagonicus
Aphaenogaster sp. (I’ll be working on this species ID, soon)
Pheidole crassicornis

#2 Offline Acutus - Posted May 26 2019 - 6:06 PM

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Sounds awesome!! Sorry I had to miss it. I started 2 hives and captured a swarm this year but won't get any honey. I was thinking it was going to be a good year though cause my OB Hive is litterally full of honey!


Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#3 Offline AntPhycho - Posted May 26 2019 - 9:00 PM

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Hopefully I get a good yield when I harvest this summer  ;)


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#4 Offline Nylanderiavividula - Posted May 27 2019 - 3:41 AM

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Acutus, it is wise to hold off on harvesting in the first year of beekeeping.  There is a LOT of observation and learning to do, first.  If you started from packages, it is very unlikely that you would have any real harvestable amount, anyway.  I've bought a lot of packages through the years, and very rarely do they produce excess in their first year (they MAY produce just enough for themselves to overwinter, but it's not wise to take that).  Nucleus colonies, on the other hand, can be quite a different story.  Sometimes nucs will explode and easily make enough to harvest...  A lot has to do with how good the bloom is, how strong the nucleus colony is, and how good the genetics are.  We bought nucs from a guy in South Carolina for the last couple of years prior to this year...a total of about sixteen (eight per year), and some of them did decently well in their first year, some seemed queenless when we bought them, and some fizzled out and we ultimately had to start over with them.  Those nucs cost $145 ea.  This past season we went back with a nuc-maker (we bought six) who also happens to run the UGA beelab and heads a lot of the research there (incidentally, she also is part of the national initiative to improve the breeding pool via artificial insemination from drone semen from overseas because the US does not allow bees to arrive from out of country).  Her nucs are ridiculously strong when you get them, the Carniolan/Russian genetics are slightly on the mean side, and if you don't upsize them to a ten-frame deep immediately and at least a ten frame medium a week after, they ARE GOING TO swarm.  They work so quickly that despite giving them excess space, they still made swarm cells immediately.  For three weeks during the heaviest part of the flow, we had to go into each hive frame-by-frame and destroy queen cups and uncapped cells.  TEDIOUS...BUT, those hives each pulled a deep and a medium at least.  We pulled three extra supers from two of those hives this past Friday of three in the apiary.  There are three more of those upsized nucs that are in different apiaries, and at least two of them have produced excess honey that will be pulled and extracted.  The drawback to these colonies is the initial cost of $190 ea.  However, based on the amount of honey that has already come from two in a single season--nine gallons so far--they will pretty much pay for themselves by the end of spring.  If the fall flow does anything at all, they will begin to turn a profit (I know that's a new swear word, but I don't live in fantasy land) after having them for seven months.  THAT is how I determine "good" or "bad" nucs.  That $190 hurts, but if you know how to handle and arrange such fast bees, they'll make it back and then some before you've had them for a year.  If you're truly new and have zero experience with nucs, I see a lot of people buy high quality nucs and lose them because the beek wasn't fast enough to stop the swarming.

 

AntPhyco, do you know what your primary flows come from?  In the spring we have a lot of crimson, and white dutch clover types.  Our spring flow is usually a mix of:  clovers, Nyssa genus trees (if your apiaries are near swamps or floodplains, anyway), American holly trees, blackberry blooms, and privet.  Those are the heaviest contributors to the honey that's put back.  Our bees build on different blooms at the earliest part of spring, but that nectar is usually converted to brood and wax long before is gets ripened into honey.

 

Edit:  "Nuc" is just short for "nucleus colony".  A nucleus colony is just a small/whole bee colony with varying stages of brood, a laying and accepted queen, a few thousand workers, and a couple of food frames (honey and pollen).  The traditional nuc is a five deep frame colony, and that's what we typically buy when we buy bees.


Edited by Nylanderiavividula, May 27 2019 - 3:47 AM.

Camponotus castaneus
Camponotus chromaiodes (Pretty sure...)
Brachymyrmex patagonicus
Aphaenogaster sp. (I’ll be working on this species ID, soon)
Pheidole crassicornis

#5 Offline Acutus - Posted May 27 2019 - 6:13 AM

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Yes I knew I wouldn't get any this year that's what I meant by missed it. I probably let the bees keep more than most do anyway. I don't see the honey or anything so If I get enough for me I'm fine. :D This Russian/carnioian thing sounds awesome. I've had the most success here in MD with Russians. I'm finding them harder to find here seems everyone wants Italians. may have to expand my search area, Maybe get Queens and let them slowly take over. :D

Honey extraction is a lot of fun! I've never done it on a commercial scale before. Nothing like Honey straight out the comb though!! :D

 

BTW Our Honey flow isn't quite over yet but will be soon. All our honey here comes from Tulip Poplar and Black Locust trees when it's over in the Spring we don't get anymore the rest of the year. Unless you have big fields of stuff planted.


Edited by Acutus, May 27 2019 - 6:16 AM.

Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#6 Offline Nylanderiavividula - Posted May 29 2019 - 5:35 AM

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Back in '06-'09, around the time when "colony collapse" was hitting hard (a term that really meant "we don't know") and commercial guys who were used to 15-20% loss started to feel the sting of 30+% losses, there was one Georgia beekeeper (commercial guy) that was maintaining just fine.  When the researchers asked him what he was doing differently, he told them that he was making sure they went into winter with ample stores of honey.  They asked him if he was robbing them hard and he told them that he was absolutely robbing the peaturkey out of his commercial hives.  So they asked him how he sent them into winter with ample stores if that was the case and he told them that he fed his bees well before the end of fall.  Well...most people do!  They were a little miffed, but it all made more sense we he explained that he tried to make sure that every one of his hives got fed FIVE GALLONS of sugar-water or HFCS to make it through the winter on.  He explained that he tried to feed it to them in a timely enough manner that they could store it away as capped honey.

     Now I know there is a metric ton of debate on whether or not HFCS or sugar-water is good for bees or how feeding it supports big ag or corn subsidies, or whatever other PC hoopla may surround it.  It's not my intention here to enter into that arena, but there is a huge takeaway from Bob Binnie's successful beekeeping.  He was able to weather the storm of CCD when so little was known about it that most other commercial guys were going belly-up!  Many many people lose hives because they simply do not understand the amounts of honey (carbohydrates) a medium-to-large colony needs to have in the hive to make it through the winter.  I run into a lot of people who have given up beekeeping in the second and third years because their bees just "mysteriously" die...  These folks usually blame it on weather, bad placement, robbing bees, yellow jackets, or -the favorite- pesticides.  I believe new beekeepers could keep bees on an island with absolutely no one else around and blame losses on pesticides...  More often than not, the two biggest killers I see are caused by PPB ([censored] Poor Beekeeping), and that is a lack in treatment regimen for varroa mites and a total misunderstanding of how much carbohydrates it takes for a colony to survive.  Varroa is the number one killer of bees.  People don't understand how deleterious they are to a colony because they are so incredibly small that they can't understand how something so tiny can be so virulent, thusly, they go untreated and the colony dies.  Secondly, I have beekeepers tell me, "I feed my bees every month!" incredulous that I would suggest that maybe they perished due to famine...of course my question is, "How much were you feeding per month?" and I get, "Oh...well at least a quart of sugar syrup."...  My weakest colonies get around 1.5-2 gallons per month during times of nectar dearth. 

     Most of the time I try to leave a super full of floral-source honey/nectar for each colony going into the winter.  So our hives usually go into winter as a deep and a medium.  Some colonies are so populous that they inevitably eat up that single super, and we must get them through the winter on a 1.5:1 sugar:water mix using one gallon frame feeders.  Different portions of the country/globe have different amounts necessary depending on their seasons.  What I describe in how we do things is what we have found (learning many lessons the hard way along the way) to work for us here in Georgia.  I also definitely don't mean for this to come of as sounding like a rant.  I am truly trying to be informative, so if it seems like I'm typing this white-knuckles I'm not and certainly didn't intend for it to seem that way.  =-) 

     Acutus, I would recommend shopping around for different types.  I would look for Marla Spivak lines if I were you.  There really isn't anything "pure" in bee genetics.  The Russians/Carniolans typically have a darker phenotype.  The queens are sometimes quite a bit darker (not always) and harder to spot in the colony than Apis mellifera ligustica queens.  Again, though, the Apis mellifera carnica types can be a little aggressive in my experience.  The bees in my apiaries and subsequent home-made queens are all mixed up.  We have Italians, cordovan phenotypes show up a lot, Russian, and Carniolan...  If a queen/hive is doing well, I don't really question their genetics.  If a hive is overwhelmingly (cover-up-your-veil style) aggressive...well...I look at where we are as concerns the nectar flow because those ridiculously mean hives WILL make honey in large amounts...so if a flow is coming on, I let them be.  But if a hive is acting Africanized and there is no flow...?!  That B has got to go.  Pinch the queen and throw in a new one (it's not exactly that simple, but that's what it amounts to).  The aggression will usually level off in six weeks.  Also, not sure how new you are to it, but learn quickly to value comb!  Comb-draw is even more ephemeral than honey ripening!


Camponotus castaneus
Camponotus chromaiodes (Pretty sure...)
Brachymyrmex patagonicus
Aphaenogaster sp. (I’ll be working on this species ID, soon)
Pheidole crassicornis

#7 Offline Acutus - Posted May 29 2019 - 6:32 AM

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Awesome info thanks! I've been doing it for like 10 years but I'm not die hard for sure. I mostly got into when we started our Nature Center to be able to care for an OB Hive. I use the hives to teach basics about honey bees and Honey is really only icing on the cake so to speak. I'm as apt to leave the bees have it as I am to take it for myself.

I basically keep a gallon of 1:1 on the hives from July-Nov depending on temps. I check it weekly to see if it needs replacement and replace as needed. ( this year because these were packages)

We had a regimen for nosema and mites when I had another beekeeper managing the hives. Biggest problem I ever had were Hive beetles. I'll call the old keeper and see what we were doing then cause the last 2 years other beekeepers didn't work out so I have decided to do it myself.

 

I'll check out the Queen you suggest though. Thanks!


Edited by Acutus, May 29 2019 - 6:37 AM.

Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#8 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 29 2019 - 8:58 AM

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I'm just drooling about all the mead you could make out of that!


"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.




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