Wednesday, March 15, 2023

March 2023 - Gearing Up and Ready to Roll

After a rather "eventful" fall, following my wife's eventful FALL (shattering both wrists), we managed to get into winter without any further drama and settled the bees in. With surgeries behind us and the bees looking strong, we're now making preparations for a robust swarm season and setting the bees up for Spring Honey production.

My wife made it through months of rehabilitation and two surguries on her wrists to get things as close to right as possible. We're still assessing how much function she'll regain, but she's back at work and continues to push her healing to expand the "new normal" to the best version we can find. She's a total badass and as unpleasant as this little side journey of life was, I think we're both grateful in retrospect for how it deepened our relationship with each other and our kids.

Autumn honey harvest was complicated by my wife's injuries, but we were able to enlist the extremely over-qualified labor of a our friend who is a highly regarded medical researcher. If we'd paid his typical wages, we'd be many-years-bankrupt! Fortunately he accepted the "first fruits" jar of honey as payment and seemed to be fascinated by and enjoying the behind-the-scenes peek at small operation honey processing.

Speaking of which, the Autumn honey is FANTASTIC. It's no secret that I generally favor the Autumn honey over the Spring-- it's a tricky question to answer when people ask me which one is better! Usually, I simply point out that it depends on how you use it and for my uses, Autumn's distinct flavor is what tips the scale. The only real downside is that we regularly get only about half as much Autumn honey as Spring honey...  and it sells faster than I can hoard it for myself.

Which reminds me....  We have a SALE EVENT coming up:

DO PLAN to come and buy honey if you are interested --  the Autumn honey is NEARLY sold out already, so BE EARLY if you want some! We also have a large amount of Spring 2022 honey, (2023 will be harvested in July). 

Come get some  H O N E Y !!  

However, as previously mentioned: Limited delivery in the McKnight Road / Route 19 (North Hills, NA) is something we can probably work out. We are also willing to ship via USPS (see the Current Prices page) with payment in full, in advance. Please contact us by email FIRST. And sign up for our emails if you want first crack at the fresh stuff when it comes in -- details are at the end of this post.

As for the bees, they have been largely unmoved by the events of the last 6 months, watched from our back windows and with the occasional checkup and resupply of sugar bricks. 

It had been our intention to transition to single-deep main hives, but as I struggled to realign and prepare the hives for winter on my own, it became clear that it would not be possible. Several of the hives were just so strong and populated that they physically could not fit all the bees in that small a space and there weren't enough honey stores to keep them going (sugar bricks are a safety feed, not their primary food).  
Additionally, the splits we'd made earlier in the season to prevent swarming had all done well through the summer and were bursting out of their small nuc boxes! We needed to consolidate the bees and that meant a very unpleasant trip through the boxes to assassinate faithful old queens and combine colonies.

In the end, we only managed to get ONE hive down to a single deep. The rest have overwintered (thus far) in their double boxes and while their populations have dwindled a bit from the bursting-at-the-seams of last fall, they are all looking to start this spring very strong. This means, of course, that we need to be aggressive to mitigate swarming and I need to get busy rebuilding the weather-damaged nuc boxes in time to split up the colonies in early spring.

The distractions last fall also meant that our "boardwalk" path to the bee yard missed out on its yearly maintenance. That made for some pretty treacherous conditions during the fall harvest, as a full grown man carrying a full box of honey is a LOT of weight on a weathered pallet board!  Many broke and the path was increasingly hazardous. 

I continued to gather up pallets from my workplace as they became available and a few unseasonably warm mid-January/February sunny days were perfect for rebuilding the boardwalk. Given the marshy conditions, I opted to try stacking the new pallets on top of the old ones rather than swapping them out.  We'll see how this ages with use, but for now they're much better and more dry. The only downside seems to be retrimming the overhanging branches for some head clearance. Check out the before and after by clicking on this thread:

Finally, for a (relatively) quick overview of "how bees work" and how we go about harvesting their honey, check out this video we made for a high school friend who is an elementary school teacher and her class-- Basics About Bees:

Consider joining our email list-- we will not spam you, we promise! What we will do is send out information regarding events we are scheduled to sell at, along with reminders when each season's harvest is ready for sale. For anyone looking for the limited availability stuff (like quart jars or comb honey) or who want to be first in  line, this is the list to be on-- email us to get on that list if you aren't already. 

Follow us!  We are @DandelionApiary on Twitter and Instagram

Thank you everyone!

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