Soapmaking is Nicole’s project but she doesn’t post anything about it. As this settles into an acquired skill, it’s time to build some proper boxes.
A few two-bys
Watch your fingers, arms; pretty much any protuberance
Reminiscent of Breaking Bad
8 weeks curing time, I’ll post the soaps when they are done. We’ve been using them for a while now and they are my absolute favorite. They are made with our wax & honey, tallow from friends’ animals and sometimes goat milk. They last forever unlike the shit you buy in stores. Nicole is experimenting with a recipe that does not include coconut oil or olive oil, this way we’ll be able to source all ingredients locally.
Fun fact: soap is thought to have originated on sacrificial altars when rain mixed with ashes and fat made a suspicious substance someone decided to take a shower with. Sacrifices & dumb luck created one of the biggest advancement in chemistry. Maybe we could sacrifice our way to Mars?
All in all this has been a pretty weird bee season. Between the swarms, the bear attacks, the drone baby-boom and the lack of reserves; I lamented that no sweetness would be gained from the hard work.
To my good surprise however, the bees finally adjusted to all this and got in a decent amount of honey. It probably helps that they already kicked out all these freeloader males.
Lot of activity but they remained super friendly throughout my extraction of a few frames
I only pulled 6 frames, I want to leave enough food behind for the cold days ahead
The cells are packed!
The frames gotten from the Top Bar Hive are all used, the wax is saved for soap & lip balm making.
While the frams of the Langstroth Hive are spun in an extractor in an effort to save the wax (saving bees the costly work of making more wax if you’re only interested in the honey).
As I said, not a great year but happy to have gotten some loot
Looks great, tastes great
I missed swarms so far because the hives are far from the house and so I only see them every few days. This week end was a trial by fire when it comes to swarming.
Finally, the neighbors spotted a swarm. It landed on a hemlock branch 40′ high. I tried everything to get to the branch including a 32′ extension ladder to no avail. So we put swarm catching box nearby and I kept a very close eye on them hoping to catch them on their take off to their new chosen home. Except one hour they’re on the branch doing nothing unusual and the next, gone! All gone, except for a couple of trailing bees seeming as lost as I was; the whole thing just vanished.
Well that was a waste of time and efforts. Especially considering they took almost a 24h to figure out where to go. The next morning, the neighbors tell me that the buzzing is back… That can’t be, whether the swarm is confused or I have a new one on my hands.
Can you see them?
They are on a hop hornbeam this time, same height but an easy fell. And we proceed to do just that. We tie it to another tree to ease the sucker down with friction and it all works beautifully for the first 45 degrees but it all came crashing down for the remaining 45. The bees were not happy about that. They flew back to where the tree initially stood, I was afraid they would find another high branch nearby; but they eventually flew back to their branch of origin which was now very accessible to me.
Settling down after the ride (make sure to turn the volume up)
Definitely a foreign feeling to have your hand in there
I inspected the other 2 hives to see what they were up to and heard a piping queen in both! Meaning these were indeed 2 different swarms.
Piping queen, tried to find her but time ran short as the other bees were starting to dislike my intrusion
Lesson learned: tall trees are a bad idea around hives. I’m going to have to find a better spot for them.
All of this wouldn’t have been possible without awesome people like Nina who lent me a swarm catching box and good advice, and Peter who is always ready for an adventure. I wouldn’t have been able to catch my first swarm without their help.