Welcome to Oak Orchard Honey

We are a small beekeeping operation a short bike ride from the shore of Lake Ontario. Our hives are located in the heart of an old growth apple orchard planted by Ed Archbald back in the 1920s. A variety of apple trees were planted nearby in the 1990s that our bees visit, and we also have enough meadow with wild flowers to supply them with nectar and pollen through much of the season.

We are in the process of collectin feral bees and regressing our present bees back to the cell size of 4.9 mm. Cell size has been artificially increased since 1890s, and some members of the beekeeping community attribute many of today's bee health problems with this increased cell size.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Trapout in Bergen - Video update

I didn't have any fresh eggs to place in the trapout, so I contacted Jill at www.bloomfieldhoney.com/‎. She was great and sold me a laying queen so I was able to get things all set up. Here is the video of what was done.

I'm going to go over and remove the cone from the tree to allow the new established hive to rob-out the old hive in the tree. I assume there is a lot of honey left behind and I want this new hive to build up enough stores to make it through winter.

With only one hive really established back at our apiary, we won't have much honey to harvest this year. Hopefully, if we continue to grow we will be able to split some hives in the future.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A few problems and a trapout

Well, the winter went okay except we lost one of the two hives... the Washington. As you may know, I've decided to name the hives after the US presidents to help me learn them as I go - ha!

Time to try a trapout from a beehive in a tree out in Bergen, NY. The owner is highly allergic to bee stings and would like to walk along his wooded path without worry. He is glad to have the bees taken to a new home.

So, I set up the trapout and was ready to pull a frame of fresh eggs out of the Jefferson hive, but... no eggs. I knew the numbers had dropped after a predicted swarm, but I thought the old queen would still be doing her job. Not from what I saw. The whole brood box was empty and clean. Lots of bees though. The numbers looked strong.

So, I called Jill at Bloomfield Honey Farm and she set me up with two laying survivor stock queens for $30 a piece. She will have them for us today in queen cages with attendants so I can go out tomorrow and get the trapout started as well as requeen the Jefferson hive.

(Video of the hive ready in the tree in Bergen, NY)
(Video of the screen cone that will be placed over the opening in the tree) video

Since starting to name our hives we have lost "Adams", then "Washington". In an amazing historical coincidence:"Jefferson lives!" was said by John Adams on his deathbed, not knowing that Jefferson had passed away. They both died on July 4, 1826 within 5 hours of each other.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mid-Summer Honey

The mid-summer harvest went well. Both hives seem to be building up at about the same rate. We were able to extract a medium super off each hive leaving four mediums for the bees.

The last frame on each super had not been fully drawn out so I swapped them out for one of the empty frames on the supers I added. This is one of the reasons I will be switching over to eight frame mediums; those outside frames are hard to get drawn out. Also, in eight frame mediums the bees are less likely to eat themselves into a corner and not be able to move up into the honey stores.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Craig Yerdon's Organically Managed Beekeeping Podcasts

I have been really enjoying Craig's podcast about organic hive methods. A couple of things have been repeated enough times in just a few episodes to make me understand their importance.

1. I need to stop with the large cell foundation for reasons made very clear by Craig and his guests
2. I need to switch over to 8 frame mediums for all my hive boxes, again for various reasons.
3. I need to re-listen to the pod casts and write down a few things that will make me a better keeper.

The things I am hearing help me to better understand the nature of bees. I always felt that if I had to keep the bees alive by artificial or pharmacological methods I would need to just get out of the hobby.

It sounds like I can have success without introducing foreign materials into the hives - that's perfect...

Link:  http://somdbeekeeper.com

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Backyard Pool Cause for Bee Relocation

I put a pool in our backyard... It was a very dry start to the summer, and the bees were very happy to hang out at the pool with us. My family was not so cool with "swimming with the bees". So, I packed up the two hives and drove an hour away to our feral apple orchard on the south shore of Lake Ontario. The bees now have a two acre pond to draw all the water they need. The fall season will last longer there because the lake will moderate temperatures for a while. They will also get a later start because during spring the temperatures will stay significantly cooler than it will be just a few miles inland.

This will be an interesting new start.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trap-Out Continued

On the second day of my very first screen-cone trap-out I was called by the homeowner to tell me the hive boxes (two mediums) were overflowing with bees. He said they were hanging off the front entrance in a long beard. I didn't need a bunch of bees running out of space on a house only twenty feet from the busy sidewalk, so I hurried over and swapped it out for another two- medium hive.

I'm trying to switch over to using only medium boxes for brood and honey supers to make trading out frames simpler. I cut down a deep that had ten frames of empty comb and made the whole thing into a medium. It all went pretty well except for all the wire I had to cut. The three inches of comb strips left over were tied to new frames for the a nuc.

I left the second hive on the house for a week and a half. I had to get help to lower the hive to the ground. They had loaded it up with a lot of honey. It felt like sixty pounds or so.

The picture shows the Washington hive on the left that was removed yesterday with some rope assistance. The Adams hive is in the middle. The Jefferson hive was pulled off the trap-out a couple weeks ago and appears to be very active. The eight frame nuc is at the sight and I am hoping that will become the Madison hive.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trap Out Neophyte

So, I watched the "Trap-out King" video quite a few times to pick up on the finer points of the trap-out. I got myself some aluminum window screen and some wire to sew it together with, along with some fresh eggs - I hope. Man, those things are small. I kept thinking I saw them in the cell and then it looked like... a mirage - I just convinced myself that they were there after a while. The homeowner was kind enough to make this really nice hive stand that can be seen in the video. The hive boxes were full after only a day - bees hanging off the entrance, so I went back and placed another set of boxes just like in the video. I took the full hive back to my apiary and looked inside - it was packed with bees. I'll see if I can get another sizable colony out of that house.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trap Out King

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Naming of Hives

I always like it when I see people giving a name to a hive. It really seems to make the hive more than just a bunch of hard-working bees. Also, it seems like it might help my memory of what's going on in the hive if I allow it to have an identity. So, out of a sense of pride and the desire to know stuff, I'm going to name my hives after the Presidents of the United States of America. This is an amazing group of people by all accounts.
I'm an elementary school teacher, and so it is, I have the duty to know important stuff like this to further the education of our young people. The problem is, after I get to Madison my memory kind of fades out until I get to Eisenhower; that's were I pick up the trail again until I make it to #44. I guess I know the order of fifteen of the presidents. Knowing this probably, and somewhat sadly, puts me in the neighborhood of 99th percentile of Americans. If-ever-I-can-get to forty-four hives, I'm gonna have a wealth of knowledge about bees and Presidents. Right now I just have to make sure Washington and Adams are well-fed and happy. By the end of this summer I hope to be working on Jefferson and Madison with any luck.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Winter Loss

Bees all in one corner
It appears that my hive #1 that I started out with two years ago as the strongest hive has succumbed to starvation. I have read that the bees can get separated from plenty of honey (in this case a full medium above them) by eating their way into a corner. This is what looks like happened. I was out in the bee yard in February after a long snap of cold weather and rapped on the side of the hive to hear the familiar sound of bees and heard nothing. I kind of knew then that it was not good. It was finally 50 degrees today, our warmest day since back in November - I think. I went out to see what had happened. While my other hive buzzed with activity, along with pollen coming in, I tore into hive number one.
Bees in cells

I cleaned out the hive and and wondered if it had been ventilated well enough because it looked very mildewed. I also saw in one corner of the brood box a small but concerning amount of mold growing on two of the frames. I would be very interested in anyone who has experienced mold to comment on what is the best way to clear up this problem.

Blue mold
I felt bad as I cleared out the hive. I wonder if there was more that I should have done to create better air-flow. I did have the telescoping top propped up at one end with small shims, but maybe it wasn't enough.