Monday, July 27, 2015

Cottonwood Beekeeping Cooperative Honey Harvest

     We did a honey harvest this past weekend with our 2 frame hand crank extractor.  A lot more fun than a Flow Hive.  I felt neither the animosity or admiration other beekeepers felt for the "Flow Hive".  At $500 Canadian for a few frames I was more disturbed by the price.
     We're experiencing a drought in Vancouver with no winter snow in the mountains and water restrictions in effect as of last week.  This is obviously a concern for beekeepers as the amount of moisture present determines the nectar available for the bees.  We kept this in mind when pulling honey frames leaving lots of partially wax capped and wet frames (uncapped honey) in each hive.  Also, important to note no blow outs on foundationless, unwired frames.  It seems as long as they are firmly attached on all 4 sides we have no problems.  Half of the honey from each hive goes to the Vancouver Foodbank or is sold to support Cottonwood Community Garden.  Thanks to Bruce for these photos.

Serge demonstrating the proper wobble proof sitting position on the extractor
Though we have fine filters we have determined that we and our customers (friends) prefer a very large filter removing only the largest bits of wax.
     While pulling honey frames for the harvest we checked on the queen status of two previously queenless hives and found fresh larvae.  We had added frames of young brood to create the new queens.

Our Honey Bee Larvae
     A major concern for us beginning in September when they leave their nests is the Yellowjacket Wasps (Vespula pensylvanica - Western yellowjacket) that attempt to enter the hives and kill our bees.  Last year they were much more aggressive and persistent well into December surviving many a frosty night.  With this particular species of wasp all die with the arrival of cold weather (we thought) except for the newly mated queen who survives in a sheltered location.

Vespula pensylvanica (western yellowjacket-Queen) in our garden.
     The wasps like all living things play an important role in our ecosystem by preying on our crop pests and pollinating some of our plants.  I've identified 8 different species of wasp in our garden.  Actually I had help from the experts at Bugguide .  They will do their best to identify any insect photo you send to them.

Polistes dominula- European paper wasp in our garden.
      Of greater concern for us than the aggressive wasps may be a September dearth or bloomless period.  The Goldenrod and Rudbeckia are in bloom and I'm picking apples, all a month premature.  September is usually a good foraging month for us but with warm temperatures, hungry bees and few blooms many local beekeepers will consider syrup feeding.  Let's hope I'm wrong.

Ahhh, filling my favourite honey jar.



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