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.

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.