Bees Succeed, Garden a Wash – 2015 Recap

It’s all about the Bees.

This summer has had it’s ups and downs. I’ve been so busy volunteering for All Shepherd Rescue that I have neglected so many things on the farm. The upside to that is the numerous foster dogs we have had this year have all been adopted. The downside is the garden was raided early on by deer, the weeds took over, and I just decided to “give up”. Much to my surprise the other day, I have some viable volunteer tomato plants, some basil, some rosemary, and some cilantro to harvest. Thankful for some fresh produce this year even if I did nothing to deserve it. I haven’t even done much with the bees other than observe their comings and goings. The number of canine lives that have been saved due to ASR’s rescue efforts makes it all worth it.

I’ve been meaning for weeks to get out to check the hive, it was either too hot to suit up (I actually have a honey bee allergy so I wear a ventilated full suit), too windy, or raining. On the days that were good days to get into the hive, I always had other things to do. Well, today was going to be the last low humidity day for the next week or so which translated to my last chance for a while to get in and see what was going on.

bees, beehive, honey, frame, honey harvest
Fully loaded – front and back.

So I suited up, fired up the smoker, and headed out for the hive. (The feature photo is from last year when I had just brought home two swarms that a fellow Keep had caught.) 2015’s colony  is a four-deep – also a Southern Maryland swarm – having lost the two new swarms to who knows what. Lots of propolis sealed the inner cover which once removed, a beautiful sight appeared. A hive teaming with bees, and two deeps full of honey – well over 200 pounds, not counting what might be in the two lower deeps. Doing a quick survey of the third deep, I observed a good 100 pounds and decided that taking eight frames from the fourth deep would still leave them plenty of food this winter.

local honey, bees, harvest
80# fresh, local honey.

I had been keeping four frames containing partially filled honey comb in my freezer since last fall, so I thawed and added them to the hive. The bees will clean them up and after I harvest this year’s honey, I will put four of the empty frames back into the hive for the fall flow. The empty drawn comb will be stored in the freezer to prevent wax-moths and be used when I add colonies in the spring. I’ve already been in touch with a couple reputable bee suppliers and fully expect to have to purchase packages of bees next year in order to expand the apiary. I would love to have a minimum of four colonies on a consistent basis.

Stay tuned for a follow up post detailing the extracting process and the total yield from today’s harvest.

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