Thursday, June 05, 2008

in the bees

bee suits not just a sexy fashion statement.

that lower white box is completely full of honey. i had to add this top box pronto.

in an effort to be lazy we are trying to go foundationless. in a normal apiary wax sheets with comb impressions are put on each frame so the bees can extrude them out in the right place. we had horrible luck keeping the foundation in place. the second time we got into the bees there was huge crumples of foundation and comb haphazardly extruded everywhere. we decided to just put thin strips across the top to get them started. that effort worked marvelously. then we had to add frames in a hurry without any foundation to keep crazy hives from swarming. they built out the comb perfectly and filled it with babies. we started to wonder why should we bother with the wax foundation at all. we don't have any plans on using an centripetal extractor so there is no need for reinforcement wire or anything.
anyway, we are trying a huge experiment. michael bush of bush bees has a huge site dedicated to lazy beekeeping. rather, letting the bees be bees and trusting nature. he has an example of a little triangular addition to the top bar. this allegedly lets the bees know this is where to begin. harvesting this honey could really suck if this experiment goes badly. the risk is huge but the reward might be that we never have to buy foundation again. not that the wax foundation sheets are very expensive but anywhere we can cut costs means more "hookers and gin" for me.

here is another view of the addition "v". i am holding the frame upside down for better shading.

i also purchased a little brad pusher--six bucks. it makes assembeling these frames and new addition triangle. easy.

all of these bees were chasing me down just a few minutes after this shot.

when they have a ton of honey the get really protective. poised on the front porch looking for trouble.

other farm news

our first cow is looking really healthy. she gets a daily dose of kombucha too.

this is rory she is kinda bossy

i, finally after three years, put cabinet fronts on tabitha's cupboards. she loves them. easy to please isn't she?


tansy said...

show us picture of those frames filled with the bees foundation!

the cabinets look great. i bet tabitha is pleased as punch to have them 'kid free' again!

Ed Abbey said...

The reasons I can think of to use wax are for uniformity, centripetal extracting and that the bees spend less time building cells and more time spending honey. For home consumption, I can't see how any of those reasons would concern you.

I assume not using centripetal extracting means you will basically chunk up the comb and store it in a jar or just use the honey in come form or are you going to just use gravity to extract it? You can still use cetripetal extracting on non-reinforced comb or comb with no reinforcement at all but care has to be taken. We would generally uncap both sides, spin the frames at a very low speed in our handcrank two frame extractor for just ten or fifteen seconds to unload some honey on the outside, then reverse them before completely extracting the other side at a slightly higher speed. Finally we would turn them back to the original side and get the last little bit out. Occasionally you would still end up destroying the comb in a frame but it can be done. My parents ended up doing this as a business and went to reinforced wax starter so that a 20 frame electric extractor could be used. We lived next to the Maharishi's who wanted lots of organic honey and there was a nice market for it. Unfortunately, beekeeping is intensive in the spring and fall with their main livelyhood farming is and they eventually sold out.

Wish you luck on your bee adventure Karl! It is bringing back lots of good memories from my past.

Danielle said...

My plan is to move to foundationless frames next year. I'm trying to regress my bees to small cell foundation this year. I like Bush's bee site and have found it very helpful.

Just had my bee inspector out the other day, and the hives are doing well. I put the second deep body on them yesterday and can't wait to see how they do with it.

Glad to see you got a suit!

mamabug said...

nice red on the cabinet fronts! Cheerful!

Phoebe Gleeson said...

Ah! I squealed and cooed at the cabinets. Sean knows I'm easy to please too :-)

tansy said...

btw, spiffy new suit you're sportin!

uncle matt said...

Cool suit! I gotta get one of those! You look like a space man, or a hazmat guy, or...well, a beekeeper. Although I think the hookers will laugh at you and you'll have a hard time drinking gin through the mask. Good luck.
BTW, Rory should know what happens to bossy cows. Ask Merlin!

Danielle said...

I love the cabinets! Why are you using all deeps and not supers? Just curious.
Nimue looks huge! Rory's markings on the front of her legs are really pretty!!!!

P.S. I used to dream about killer bees when I was younger and I would dream that we had to wear bee suits to just walk outside...was it a premonition about my marriage with Joe?

karl said...

tansy, next time i'm really in the bees i'll take some shots.

ed abbey, thanks for the info. yeah we are just going to cut and crush. an extractor isn't in any near budget.

danielle, isn't bush bees site amazingly wonderful with information? i figure that if i go foundationless the bees can make the comb the size that they want.

donna, thanks

phoebe, it startles me every time i walk into the kitchen.

matt, hookers and gin is just our metaphor for spending money on frivolous stuff. i now you know this but i don't want anyone else to get the wrong idea.

danielle, deeps are for standardization. we plan to feed comb if necessary and having all one size will make all kinds of stuff more reasonable. we'd prefer all mediums--the weight ya know. but, this is what we started with. i might survive to regret this decision. one of our deeps is full of honey already and i lifted it without breaking my back so this will do for now. the local chiropractor might find a new customer though.

that killer bees movie came out a little after my impressionable years. i imagine it might have affected you--even just seeing horror movie ads is enough to scare our kids. tabitha helps me suit up checking for chinks in my armor. that might ease your mind too.

Rurality said...

Nice looking cow! And haven't you heard of Bossy the cow?! :)

edifice rex said...

Hey karl! Glad to see you got a great bee suit! Your cows are very pretty. The bossy one reminds me of one we had when I was a teenager; I don't recall she had a name. But her tail had been broken and had a bad crook in it up near the top. If she swished it too hard it would get stuck up on her back! She was a very sweet animal but wasn't real pretty.

The Scavenger said...

Hey Karl, everything looks great. This is my first visit and you can bet not my last. Read most of your blog toady and really enjoyed it. I wish everyone could enjoy the simple life that we were made for. Some just for some reason are afraid of it. hehe!! Man they just don't know what they are missing.


karl said...

rurality, bossy who? just kidding... my grand father used to call all of his cows to milk "heeeere booosssy"

annie, thanks, i really like my bee suit. it changes the whole bee keeping experience.

chris, welcome and thanks for stopping by. my lens is a bit skewed by optimism but realistic none-the-less.

hillbilly2be said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Unusually Unusual Farmchick said...

I'm looking forward to reading more about your experiment with the Bee's.
Glad to see you finally have your armor.LOL.
IO so envy your having cows for milk...Even if she is bossy I could still enjoy the milk..LOL.

Lacey said...

Just wanted to let you know that I drool in anticipation of reading your new blog postings. You are living my dream and I intend on following in your families footsteps someday. Thanks for your inspiration and documentation of the process!

Juddie said...

Oooh I love the red cabinet doors! And your cows look very sweet too ;-)

cat said...

wow!! i want bees! you guys are living my dream..:)

the cabinets look beautiful as well! as do the cows...:) thanks for sharing....

karl said...

ron, this fashion is beyond any local macy's:)

tammy, yeah we love our cows.

lacey, welcome and thanks for posting i like the feedback.

juddie, the cabinets are a big hit around here too. toly already broke one of the baby proof locks. we should hire him out for baby product testing.

cat, thanks for coming back. we love our bees they are so pleasant to just sit and watch. their activity is infectious.

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