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Category Archives: self sustainability

  • Beepocalypse – lesson learned

    The fact that every comb built since the beginning had been so perfectly straight made me loose the habit of checking every frame. Horrible mistake, what started as a little bump in an early bar became more and more angled resulting in comb crossing bars. When I caught it, it was simply too late and a major operation had to be done to set things straight. Comb fell, deep cutting needed to be done & a ton of bees died in the process. I lost half of my honey production & half of my colony. There was just no easy way to do this.

    The lesson learned here is to inspect often and all the bars, especially when the bees lay a lot of comb.

    Some crossed comb, when things weren’t ugly enough that I was still taking pictures

    Here are some tips to incentivize the bees to build straight:

    • lay some wax in a line that you want them to follow (I had done that and it worked really well for a while)
    • cut if they deviate, cut again until they stop
    • keep the following board close to where the last comb is built because it is a straight reference, in other words, don’t expand to far from the comb.
    • add an empty bar between the ones that had crooked comb

    I’m not sure how these techniques work but I certainly am religiously following them now. Hopefully this will save us from another traumatic experience.

    All in all this sucked and I feel really bad for failing my bees. I still got some 6 jars of honey out but I could have gotten a lot more. It’s the most delicious honey I ever had but every time I have some I am reminded of the beepocalypse.

    Lesson learned…

    It’s a freaking mass-grave in there

    Got some decent comb out

    Filtering the loot

    The loot

  • Bee Baby Boom

    The colony has been growing very dramatically in the past couple of weeks. All the brood I saw finally saw the light of day and the bees are now quickly filling their hive. All in all it took them a while to really get going. This is one of the disadvantages of top-bar beekeeping, the bees have to build everything by themselves so it takes the colony longer to establish itself. I think it’s a good thing, for one because it’s more natural but also because building comb is one less thing I need to do :).

    Given that population growth is now in full swing, I gave them quite a few more top-bars to expand on. We are approaching the maximum size the hive will allow though as I would like to keep a few empty bars to have room for shifting and rotating. It may be time to start thinking about a second hive.

    Bee population growth is not exponential, only 1 queen does all the laying although she can lay a few thousand eggs a day. So it’s linear and will probably turn asymptotic with older bees dying. I wonder how big a hive could get outside of its habitat limitations.

    Turn on the sound and hear the hive’s rumble.

    [flv:http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/IMG_1149.MOV1_.flv http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Screen-Shot-2012-07-02-at-11.28.15-AM.png 688 387]

    The hive entrance is very busy.

    [flv:http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/IMG_1151.MOV.flv http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Screen-Shot-2012-07-02-at-11.30.26-AM.png 688 387]

    I wish I had a high speed camera.

    [flv:http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/IMG_1150.MOV.flv http://ben.akrin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Screen-Shot-2012-07-02-at-11.32.24-AM.png 688 387]

  • A sea of tomatoes

    A few pics of all the tomatoes to come. Roughly 100 tomato plants, at 10lbs of tomatoes per plants, this means we’ll be doing some serious canning this year.

    More cheapo frames – the tomato super-highway.

    Flowers means we’ll be getting some yum-yum soon.

    The plants that were planted the earliest of the season were given left-over scraps of wool in order to better retain heat & moisture. They are by far the most sturdy of all tomato plants. Lesson learned.

    Look at ’em fancy plants, even I don’t wear such nice fiber.

  • Woodchuck

    The neighbor’s vegetable garden has been ravaged recently by what he thought was a woodchuck. Now our garden is doing just fine but just in case I started reviving the old CCTV system. Bare in mind I have never had an encounter with one and only know what they look like based on the label of some mighty delicious cider.

    Pictured bellow, said mighty delicious cider in action.

    A casual look out the window and I see a fat cat inside my fenced garden. Thanks the the neighbor’s heads up & the power of delicious cider I know exactly what is going on: woodchuck, inside my fenced garden, having an all you can eat buffet…

    I run upstairs to get a pellet rifle thinking it’s not worth alarming the neighbors with gunfire and that it will probably be enough to give it the scare of its life. Turns out the rifle it much more powerful than I had imagined and just drops the poor thing dead.

    Sorry woodchuck…

    Devastation

  • Rain

    My beautiful wife having more balls than me.

  • Removing the accident

    Further inspection showed that the comb on the floor was most likely a mis-attached comb that fell from a top-bar. The bees weren’t exactly expanding on it but they weren’t removing it either, it was time to give them some help. Doing so was like playing a game of Operation but it went very smoothly and the beesĀ  were very docile even though I was digging pretty deep in their hive.

    Not much in this wreck of a comb but the bees were still tending to some brood in there.

    Going at it very carefully.

    I’ll leave them to clean the remaining pieces.

    Eventually one of the back bars that I had set aside was abandoned of all bees so… I just took it! Not necessarily the best thing to do but I was very eager to taste what the bees were up to. And it was delicious.

    From comb,

    To sweet nectar.

    It tasted very much like a mix between sap & honey, super good.

  • Honey & an accident…

    I inspected my hive today and it’s doing great. I drilled a few holes in the part that is currently uninhabited to give the bees some air. I did it early in the morning to lock them inside for the drilling, they took it really well and didn’t care a bit about the ruckus, even after I released them. I continued on merrily with the inspection as if nothing happened.

    A few holes for aeration in the middle of the hive, I stapled netting to prevent robbing and to make sure they don’t become an entrance.


    Honey!

    Today’s surprise though, came with the presence of comb on the floor. I’m not sure if this fell from one of the top bars but I doubt it. I don’t know what to do with it right now, I’ll monitor the situation and decide later whether to remove it or not.

    The mess

  • They’ve already built quite a bit!

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