Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Past and Present

Warning: Today's post is graphic!

(As in, we only have pictures to post. Enjoy!)

Future #1 Sales Person...

About 20 years later, still learning from the Master.

A HOT day! This is their air conditioning.

The Master at work.

Beautiful capping

Lined up like soldiers

One of the new hive locations

Also, just in case you are very observant, it is not perpetually January 2007 in our world. Our camera is calenderically challenged. :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to School! (And an Update on Grafting)

The Heartland Apiculture Society's 9th Annual Conference was held July 8-10 at Tennessee Tech University. Greg attended this conference and was pleased to take sessions by Ed Holcome, Bill and Nancy Troup, Kent Williams, and many more. Some topics that were particularly interesting were Seasonal Hive Management, Hive Increase/Making Nucs, Queen Finding and Marking, and Queen Rearing. According to Greg, this was the best conference yet! He learned many new things and got to spend time with lots of beekeeping friends, like Eddie Cope and James Crockett of Pickett County and David Laferney of Putnam County.

As previously mentioned, we tried a little grafting on July 5th. We grafted 23 queen cells in one week. Greg placed the only cell that was successful in a mating hive. 4% is not too successful, but we were pleased that the one we successfully bred was from the Jennifer Barry queen. One reason for this low rate of success could be attributed to the fact that Greg doesn't like to do things by the book. :) Often he has found that he learns more by fumbling around and trying things (or rather is FORCED to learn more BECAUSE of fumbling around). But live an learn, right?

So grafting round two... On July 14th, Greg and David Laferney tried again, grafting 30 larva. David furnished the starter hive: one running over with bees with no queen. Greg provided the larva from the Barry queen. On the 16th, we determined that we had about a 50% success rate! This weekend Greg installed the cells in mating nucs. We will wait to see the results of that.

One more update pertains to one of our new friends we have mentioned a couple of times in this blog, Dwight Johnson. Greg went to check on him and his bees on July 16th; because of his hard work and dedication, he has been given an A+ in bee keeping from Greg Holt, Ph. Bee.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grafting Again

Earlier this week, Greg decided to give grafting another shot (we have had fair success with this for producing extra queens). He started at the Jennifer Berry hive, since they have settled in nicely and currently are the best performing queens we have. He pulled a frame of eggs, or brood, and took it to the bee lair (or the basement, as laymen may call it). He grafted 23 larva into the prepared plastic cups (fake queen cells) and then installed the cups in a queen-less upper hive body that he had made by shaking all of the bees in the front of the hive and installing a queen excluder underneath, so that only the worker bees can go into the second story.

This is a queen cell (looks like a peanut with a hole in the top). Pic is courtesy of this site.

This is a plastic queen cup. Pic is courtesy of this site.

The queen-less hive body contains brood. The idea is to keep the queen in the lower hive body performing as usual, while in the top hive body, the nurse bees will consider themselves queen-less because of the excluder. Then they should proceed to make queens from the grafted larva.

In about 8-10 days, Greg plans to retrieve the queen cells and place them in a mating hive, which is a small hive prepared for this purpose with one frame of bees and food (like a honeymoon suite, if you will). We will see what kind of success we have this time.

We don't need an abundance of queens, yet it would be nice to have a supply ready to replace old or poorly performing queens before the weather starts getting cold. It would be extra nice to have a few extra to share or sell (Probably only to local buyers...cheapqueens.com turned out to be a bad idea).

Greg has begun robbing and is spreading the harvest out over the month of July. The honey, of course, is the best we've ever had. Yet, we have never experienced a year where it WASN'T the best we've ever had. For the record, it is always a true statement.

In other apiary news, we have located two new hives to Crossville, TN. We hope that the higher elevation will yield some sour wood honey, famous in that part of the region. If that is successful, we will begin looking for a location for more elaborate extension to the east.