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.

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.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Secret Life of Bees - Almond Grove

Another amazing Gigapan shot of bees at the elusive almond groves that I have only read about. Click image above to see full-screen image.

Gigapan - Unhealthy Bee Frame

The amazing technology of Gigapan allows you to look closely at every cell of an unhealthy frame of comb. Click on the image to view the full screen version of the picture above. Other bee related images can be found by searching for honeybee in he search window at Gigapan,org.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Waiting on Spring

Thinking about spring; I've always wondered why spring isn't capitalized. I'm not sure, but I imagine that the Victorians capitalized Spring. I'm going to start capitalizing Spring, and if I am confronted by a semanticist I will say that I am using it in the form of an apostrophe (which I just found out today from a poet friend, is a usage form when addressing inanimate object as if they are people) This seems to work for Spring.
So, I'm waiting on Spring along with everybody else. I guess the beekeepers are ones who feel that it must come as soon as possible. I imagine most people in Upstate New York are tired of winter by now, but the beekeepers know that out in the bee yard there are dark boxes where time is of the essence.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Aristotle and the Honey Bee

Seems Aristotle lived from 384-322 B.C., and he is pretty much considered to be one of the greatest thinkers of the ancient world. He had a the cool job of educating the son of Philip, King of Macedon the famous Alexander.  Aristotle maintained a very close relationship with Alexander the Great and was in position to study much of what existed in Alexander’s Greek empire, along with the art of beekeeping.

A collection of his writings on the subject can be found at http://www.beeclass.com/DTS/aristotle_on_bees.htm

One interesting observation mentioned in Aristotle's writing is the use of Thyme:
...there is another disease, which is like a wildness in the bees, and causes a strong smell in the hives.  The bees should be fed on thyme, the white sort is better than the red.  They suffer the most when they work with materials affected with the rust.

Aristotle's remarks on drones is interesting. I wonder if they teach this at business school today?:
The drone is another sort: it is the largest of them all, has no sting, and is stupid. It is good for the bees to have a few drones among them, for it makes them more industrious.