Saturday, April 10, 2010

Market Day :: Maintenance Day

We took our bottled honey harvest to the local markets and were very pleased to sell 15 kilos of it on the day.

The theme of the markets was Autumn Leaves and (BELOW) this is our honey display, complete with autumn leaves. We also had beeswax candles for sale too.

We hope to have homemade beeswax furniture wax available at future markets too and homemade honey soaps too.

I've been observing the bees in the garden to see what they like best. Cosmos (BELOW) is popular - both the yellow and orange varieties. I wonder if this is one of our bees, a wild bee or one from the nearby strawberry farm hives?

We choose a fine morning this week to do some hive maintenance. We plan to get out there at least once a fortnight, if not once a week to check our four hives over.

We are looking for any changes or anything 'strange' going on. We're only new to this, so we ask "Is that normal?" a lot - then head inside to look on the internet or in one of our bee books to see - or we email a photo to beekeepers we know.

So far so good and things seem to be quite normal. We have small hive beetle in our hives (as most hives in Queensland do) but not to a level that it's starting to damage things - yet. So we are keeping up the maintenance on our beetle traps - we use the traps with Diatomaceous Earth and we've observed dead and dying beetles in these traps so they do work.

In the photo below you can see we're sliding one through the front of the hive into the brood box.
We've ordered extra traps, so when we check the hives we take clean, new, fully laden ready to go traps out with us, so we can easily swap them over there and then while the hive is open.

The bees also quickly fill up the trap entry points with propolis, so they need to be removed and cleaned regularly. I use boiling water to clean the equipment thoroughly (this is on advice from the DPI via the local beekeeping group). We also need to get set up to set fire to our hive tools using methylated spirits to sterilise them too.

While we had the hives open we cut off some comb and kept it aside, brought it inside then added it to a jar of honey we have... you can see it in the top of the jar - all that golden goodness!
So everyday we can add this honey to our breakfast and enjoy the unfiltered honey with all the health benefits that entails.

I've also been researching the best native plants to plant here - we need to revegetate some areas of our permaculture garden, provide some screening for privacy in some areas and while we're doing it, we thought we'd ensure all the plants we bring in to the property are bee friendly.

I'll write another post soon about what we've discovered and how we are starting to go about writing up our bee forage calendar for the year.

The Novice Beekeeper

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