Saturday, July 18, 2020

Strong Bees in July.

This is what the landing board of a strong hive looks like in July.   These bees were split in mid June by the Taranov method and are now undergoing treatment for mites.   Were using a treatment certified organic in New Zealand as there is not certification for organic aracnoides in bees anyplace else in the world but this may be our last chemical treatment of any type as we're moving to a heat based treatment. Mites die at 104 degrees and bees and larvae at 126.  Anyhow these bees look very strong, the aroma of honey is in the air.  They're flying purposefully and are docile. Their daughter colony is doing wonderfully in Florence.  It's all you could ask of a hive.  

Monday, July 13, 2020

Frame repair

Here's a great example of recycling.  The bees did a super job of rehabbing old comb.  What a difference two months makes! The work on this frame of honey represents about 300,000 miles of bee flight. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

New Hive Bodies (where the bees live) and supers (where they store honey) painted and ready for the bee yard! 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

We're Back!

Northampton Honey took a little time off.  When we started the business it was because we both loved beekeeping.  Priscilla worked half time and Adam 22 hours a week. At our peak we had 30 beehives. 

As both of our jobs became more demanding and full time beekeeping just became more work. We made honey but we sort of fell out of love with the bee yard. 

Now, a shocking six years, later we're keeping bees again because we love to. Nobody follows the season like a beekeeper, except perhaps a farmer. To love bees is to love flowers and to know how much rain you've had or how many good flying days the bee have had recently. 

We now have 2 or 4 hives depending on how you look at it.  These are heavily managed hives that put the health of bees before anything. 

Now when we light a smoker and pick up a hive tool and walk to the bees it's with joy again.   The good news is the bees look better than ever.  We should have honey later this year. 

Northampton honey took a little nap and woke up happy. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

New jars celebrate rail's return to Northampton

It's been a really long time since we've posted to this blog! We're getting ready to release our 2014 summer harvest, finally. Since both Priscilla and I are so excited about the return of rail to Northampton and because I, Adam, serve on the Northampton Rail Committee  we've decided to release our harvest in jars commemorative of the return of rail service.

In years past our jars have been stenciled with either 01060 or 01062 (the zip codes of our bee yards) but this year since rail returned to Northampton December 29th we've decided to stenciled NHT--the name of our new rail stop.

It's still the same honey and it still comes from our hives situated either in downtown Northampton or near the old State Hospital.

We hope to have jars at River Valley Market around the new year.

UPDATE: Looks like we'll be bringing the honey to market over the MLK weekend...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Honey Harvest June 9 and 10!

We've had a crazy spring with warm weather starting in March and then cool rain after the warm snap.  I didn't really quite know what to make of it all but I guess the bees did. We have hives heavy with honey already and will do a small but significant harvest this coming weekend.

The honey will be somewhat unusual as normally we'd not harvest until at least July, when clover and basswood would be present and contributing factors in the honey. The honey we take in this weekend will really be spring honey with fruit tree blossom and dandelion being important nectar providers to it.

Expect honey at River Valley Market in a week or two. It'll be a special but small run of unique honey, only from an oddball year like this.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Queenspotting after Brunch

We had a busy day at the apiary last Sunday. We had a visit from friend Hillary Price. We'd post a picture of her here, but everyone looks pretty much the same when their photo is take in a bee veil. We took her over to the yard and we poked around in some hives.

I cannot really imagine what it's like to look into a bee hive for the first time. They're so strange. Anyhow, we had a nice brunch with friends and then did some beekeeping.

Later on Rick Intres from Bear Meadow Apiary stopped by to help us beekeep. We know Rick from the Franklin County Beekeepers. He's very knowledgeable about bees and kindly offered to come by and show us a few tricks.

The early spring has lead to record large hives for this time of year. It's great for taking advantage of nectar, but can very easily lead to swarming, so we had to take action. We set about finding the queen bees in the hives. Can you spot her in the photo above?

It may seem easy there, but in a hive of 30,000 bees it's not easy. Rick showed us tricks that help him locate her. We then moved each queen we found to another part of the hive where she'd be less crowded and have more room to lay eggs. We spent about 6 hours in the hives. If things work out it could be a record year for us, but the swarm impulse will be intense.

This year we're inviting many experienced beekeepers to visit us in the hopes of learning a lot and sharing what we know. Nothing beats really seeing what others are doing that makes their practice special.

We also gave Rick a small colony with a queen from one of our best colonies. We're hoping he'll do well with her too. In this way we preserve and spread the best genetics to deal with the complex and harsh challenges bees face. Think of this practice as being a lot like seed sharing. Beekeepers can't compete and hope to survive; we cooperate.

Add to the list of challenges that bees face a newly emerging disease, Nosema Cerene. Most beekeepers know Nosema Apis pretty well as bee dysentery. This "new" nosema was formerly a bee disease from a social bee found in northern India. Now thanks to globalization it's here too. It's a likely contributor to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and we're trying a new fix against it. It's the extract from the bark of a tree found in Czechoslovakia. Nosema is a fungus, and trees have to fight off fungal infections all the time. The first line of defense is their bark. Make sense?

Lastly, there's been a lot of news lately about neonicitinoids killing off bees. Everyone is looking for the magic bullet that'll stop CCD but IMHO there is no magic bullet. CCD has many causes, not the least of which is how we live. Sure, neonics are probably not helping anything, but neiter is nosema cerene. I'm not sure what will stop it, or if anything ever will. In a small stand against it all we gave away a queen from our best colony to a friend.

She's been a strong girl that came to us through a swarm I captured in Florence. She was strong enough to fly away and try and make it on her own. She did this in a world with Nosema Cerene, neonics, varroa destructor and crazy weather.

Good luck with your queen Rick. She's the future, part of the one I want to live in anyhow.