Just Minding Our Own Beeswax
Summer is already halfway over for us at the Oliver Apiary! Myself, my fellow research student Sydney Hanson, and Dr. Farone have had our hands full with 12 hives these past four weeks.
In the yard, we have had a large variety of work to do. Dr. Farone and Syd (I was fortunate to be absent for this day) have caught swarms in the yard as late as the second week of June! We spent an entire morning sifting through our pollinator friendly gardens to identify and label our large variety of flora. All hives have been on a one to two-week inspection schedule, as well. Inspections involve opening up a hive and noting things like honey production, population size, presence of brood/eggs, presence of swarm cells, and (of course) the presence of a queen! Part of these inspections involves placing queen excluders between the honey super and the rest of the hive! (Having a queen excluder will prevent the queen from going upward into the box that will be removed for honey extraction. We DO NOT want the queen to get injured, lost, or killed while we are removing bees from honey frames). Inspecting the hives frequently helps the beekeepers to know what is going on in the hives and also helps prepare for honey extractions. It is also important not to inspect hives too frequently because bees can always choose to leave their hive if they do not like being bothered by a keeper’s constant presence. See photos below to learn more about how our hive inspections have been going!
Can you spot the marked queen?
Some Bee-utiful brood!
So many happy little bees.
Swarm cell, uh oh!
Lots of drone brood... And here's a larva still intact!
Each summer, Dr. Farone’s two research students each must come up with a summer project to conduct! Syd has been collecting data in the yard for her summer research project and I have been brainstorming ideas for my project involving an educational outreach program… More information on these projects will be available in August under the Apiary Research tab!
On top of our projects and the regular maintenance of the bee yard, we have many exciting things happening this summer! Dr. Farone is a guest speaker for two different groups this summer (see events page for more details). The three of us are partnering with Rose Point Church through the Rural Ministry Project in mid-July! For this project, Dr. Farone will be giving a sermon on bees in the Bible to the church congregation. Syd and I will be building and presenting a honeybee-related educational program to the vacation bible school children!
The busiest time of every beekeepers’ year is honey extraction! Because of the amount of nectar still present in the hives, we will not be extracting honey until late July. Honey extraction will involve removing the honey frames from their hives and taking them off site to be drawn. Once the honey has been extracted from the comb, the honey will need to be strained (we do not want bee legs or wax pieces in our honey). Once strained, the honey will be bottled and labelled to be dispersed! We do not know for sure what we will do with our honey this year. Last Fall (our last honey extraction), we donated 50 lbs to the Grove City Food Pantry, which left us with just a few pounds to compensate for our hard labor… This summer, however, we are projecting 400 lbs of honey! So these next few weeks will involve some brainstorming for a creative way to utilize this absurd amount of sticky heavenliness.
Busy bees -- and a big drone, too!