Sunday, December 25, 2016

How to make Salves with beeswax

 I've done a couple postings on making body products with oils and beeswax.  Generally the recipes are very similar.  The bottom line is that the amount of wax added to the oil will determine how hard the lip balm, lotion bar or salve or ointment will be.

Generally salves should be softer so you can dip your finger in to scoop a glob.  So there is less wax used in these recipes.

The ingredients can vary widely as far as what oils you use and also if you use a scent or fragrance or essential oils.

This recipe is how to make a salve which is great to put on those aching muscles or arthritic joints.  I have bad knees and I was surprised to find how much this salve helps.

You could actually make your own "Tiger Balm" which is quite effective - but that requires product from a supplier.  This recipe uses spices from your own kitchen that are warming or hot.  It's not as strong as Tiger Balm but I find it's better for daily application and less smelly.

Warming Spice Salve:

Containers - small jar or two 2 oz tins
6 tbsp Infused Olive Oil (see how to below)
2 tbsp Cayenne Pepper Powder
2 tbsp Black Pepper
2 tbsp Ginger Powder
2 tbsp Beeswax
25 drops Essential Oils (see below)

If you have a fine sieve then the spices can go into the oil loose.  If not, use a piece of cloth to knot and hold the spices.

An Oil Infusion:  In a double boiler heat the oil and spices over a medium heat for 45 mins.  Let cool and then strain the spices, keeping the oil.

Reheat the oil over a medium heat and add the beeswax.  Have containers ready.  Once the wax is melted, add the Essential Oils, stir well and then pour into containers.  Let cool.

There are essential oils that will not only give scent to the salve, they are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties which will aid the area it's applied to.  These oils are Ginger, Rosemary, Peppermint, Black Pepper, Clove, and Lavender.  Don't use all of them but one or two would be lovely.  An oil like Lavender can also help to relax and de-stress as well.  There will be a spicy smell to this salve which you'll always smell as well but I don't find it unpleasant.

The red colour comes form the spices.  It goes on the skin red but does not stain the skin.

Now that I've shared my recipe, I'd love to hear how you like it if you've tried it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How to Make a Body Lotion Bar

If you've made lip balm then you can make a lotion bar. The process is the same - you make a semi solid cake with moisturizing oils and beeswax.

The finished lotion bar melts on contact with your warm skin.  This bar is lovely to rub on your dewy skin after a shower.

With the lip balm recipe a couple posts back, I used simple oils that are readily available in the kitchen.

For this recipe it uses a variety of nourishing and moisturizing oils which are quite luxurious for the skin.

The beeswax helps to create an emollient barrier on the skin which holds the moisture against the skin.

Essential oils give your bar glorious scents and if you explore some aromatherapy oils you can create blends that can be for stress, relaxation, etc.  These give your bar an added dimension and are value added which takes your product up a notch.

The molds used for the shapes are soap molds (Milky Way brand of molds - "Guest Soap") which are sold at the suppliers listed previously on the Lip Balm recipe and re-posted at the bottom.

A small kitchen scales will help tremendously since most recipes are not by tbsp or cups, but instead by grams.

Some of the oils are semi-solid at room temperature and some are liquid oils.

Recipe yields 6 bars

18 g Virgin Coconut Oil
36 g Apricot Kernel Oil
36 g Jojoba Oil
30 g Shea Butter
36 g Cocoa Butter (deodorized or it smells like chocolate - which isn't a bad thing)
 15 g Mango Butter
8 gel capsules Vitamin E Oil
3 g Essential Oil Blend
81 g Beeswax

Slowly melt the beeswax, coconut oil, apricot kernel oil, jojoba oils and cocoa butter on a low heat until melted.  Then add in the Shea and Mango Butters.  Finally add the more delicate Vitamin E Oil and your Essential Oil blend.  Stir and make sure everything is melted.

Have your molds ready and pour your warm mixture into the molds.  Leave 30 minutes to cool.  I find it's best to put in the freezer for 5 minutes prior to unmolding so that pieces don't stick in the mold.

Or a better way is to place the freshly poured molds into the freezer for 15 minutes, then remove and unmold so that your mold is freed up to do another batch.

The bars do fit nicely into metal tins sold at the suppliers which keep them from being crushed.

I'd love to hear from you if you try this.  Good luck!

Candian suppliers:
New Directions - Canada
Voyageur Soap & Candle

USA suppliers:
New Directions - USA

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Excellent free How To videos for beekeepers from Guelph University

Dr Ernesto Gusman and Paul Kelly are the excellent instructors for the beekeeping course held at the University of Guelph's Apiculture Centre.

Below is a link to a series of about 30 free instructional beekeeping videos.  They are very professional and Paul's teaching technique is very straightforward and easy to understand.  I can't believe these are free!

This is a beekeeper's goldmine of info.  Enjoy!

An example is Swarm Control posted below.  When hives swarm we lose productivity in the hive so it's best to try to prevent it.

Monday, December 12, 2016

How to Make Lip Balm

One of the easiest things to make with beeswax and regular cooking oils in your kitchen is lip balm.

There are lots of very fancy an expensive oils (Almond Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Mango Butter, Coconut Butter, Shea Butter, Jojoba oil, etc).

I have all these oils and I have used them all.  As an esthetician I did plenty of manicures and pedicures using Almond Oil.  I have to be honest, the very best oil I found to moisturize is Olive Oil.  And it's so cheap and easy to find.  You probably already have some in your home for cooking.  Sunflower Oil is really nice to moisturize as well.

So start with these simple oils that you can get at the grocery store.  Let's use up some beeswax to moisturize the lips during the cold winter, make some presents for Christmas and maybe even sell some to pay some beekeeping bills.

First up, below is a list of suppliers where it's easy to get a few things you might purchase to make the lip balm - those plastic screw-up tubes and/or metal tins with screw on or slide out lids.

None of these containers are necessary to make lip balm as you can use your own.  Mint tins, cold cream containers, etc., there are many containers you can save when you empty them to use.  Save this list of suppliers for future recipes that I'll be sharing, for example to buy those lovely oils listed above.

Candian suppliers:
New Directions - Canada
Voyageur Soap & Candle

USA suppliers:
New Directions - USA

Great instructional videos:
This video is from Soap Queen at the USA supplier Brambleberry.  They have tons of videos which are excellent instruction for visual learners (like me).

You only need a small quantity of wax to make lip balm.  Basically you heat wax and a kitchen oil together and pour it into a container where it cools.  The amount of wax determines the hardness of the balm - the less wax you use makes an ointment or salve (recipes on those soon).

A balm should melt on contact with the lips but if in a roll-up tube it shouldn't be so soft as to melt in your pocket.

Flavours aren't necessary but do add a dimension of interest and most clients expect some type of flavour smell.  Essential oils such as spearmint, peppermint and licorice are good to use and are inexpensive to buy.  You can purchase a food grade Vanilla fragrance at the suppliers above.  Don't use vanilla extract because it's water soluble and won't mix with the wax.

For a touch of sweetness, unfortunately honey can't be used because it doesn't stay suspended in the wax because it's water soluble.  Instead, sugar-free natural Stevia is a good choice.  There are many artificial flavours available but they won't have any sweetness to them.

Soft colour powders called mica can be added to make the balm like a lipstick.

Here's a recipe to make about 22 lip balm tubes.

3 tbsp Beeswax
6 tbsp Olive Oil
4 tbsp Sunflower Oil
2 tbsp Avocado Oil

5 capsules Vitamin E Oil (from vitamin section in drug store)
20 drops Spearmint Essential Oil
1 tbsp Stevia (or more to taste)

Add all the oils (except Vitamin E and Essential Oils) to a double boiler or heat safe glass container for microwave.  Heat them slowly until melted.
Have your containers ready for when it's time to pour
Add the essential oils, stevia and vitamin E oil to the hot mixture & stir.
If you chill a spoon in the freezer, you can dip it in your warm wax mixture.  It will harden immediately.  You can then test it on your lips to see if the consistency is what you like.
Once you're happy with it, pour into your waiting containers and let cool

I'd love to hear if you've made lip balm and how it turned out.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

How to process and filter beeswax

As mentioned in the last post, when I used a simple oven method to melt beeswax cappings I discovered the wax was a lovely yellow colour and that lead to the question - why is it yellow and not brown?

In the last post I mentioned my wake up moment on how I dicovered I was mistreating my beeswax cappings by overheating the wax.

That's what caused it to look brown.

As per the oven technique in the last post, pictured is the frame I use with window screening stapled to it.  I lay paper towels on top of the screen and then pile on the cappings.

I then set the frame over a foil lasagna tray from the grocery store with a bit of water in it.

Over hours at the lowest oven setting, the cappings melt and the wax drips through the paper towel into the tray below.

The "slum gum" stays on top and can be discarded.

This yellow wax on top can look very clean but it will still have some fine debris in it.

If making candles, any debris like propolis, etc., that's still in the wax will act like creosote in the wick and prevent the candle from burning properly.

The next most important part of wax processing is to filter it really well to remove the fine debris.

There are a few methods for fine filtering and you might want to experiment with some or all of them.

The ultimate is to let the wax warm settle over a few days.  This allows time for the particles to sink to the bottom, naturally purifying the wax.

(I agree with this method but don't yet have a system that I feel I can safely leave on for days, especially if I leave the house.  Wax melters run about $1500.00 to import to Canada/customs/duty/exchange which is beyond my pocket book at this time.

Because I don't do a longer settling time, I do more fine filtering.

I use silk as the top layer that sifts and catches most of the debris.  Cheesecloth isn't fine enough.  In
reading some mentioned using J-Cloths.

Under the silk goes a piece of fabric (red in the photo).

What's important to help with filtering is to have a polyester/cotton blend where the polyester content is at least 40%.

That makes it fine enough to catch tiny debris but not such a tight weave that the wax won't go through it.

I then do a final filter through a paper cow's milk filter which I believe is the only filter used by those that do the multi day settling period.

The polyester can be purchased in a fabric store or at a second hand clothing store.

Photo - a 6" unused milk filter.

Below a used filter - note the slight brown debris that it collected.

I hope you find this information useful for when you venture into candlemaking or to help improve your current techniques.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

How to properly melt beeswax cappings

My first year beekeeping I had a bit of wax and I melted it to make candles using a crock pot.

I did that for the first few years and then found I got so busy I started stockpiling the cappings to deal with "later".

You know, when I get a round-to-it.

I wanted to bump up our sales to help pay the beekeeping bills.

Ultimately I don't care if I make money since it's a hobby, but I'd like it to at least pay for itself.

I'm going through the bags and pails of saved cappings wax.  Some are bee licked dry and others are sticky.

I started researching the best ways to process beeswax and that lead me to some interesting information.  Take a look at my candles in the photo below.
Notice the colour difference between left and right?  The left side is the colour I was most familiar with.  But then I learned that the wax was actually camel coloured because it had been overheated when melting.

I had followed the directions on some U-Tube videos where beeswax was put in either a double boiler or into water in a pot and was then boiled on high heat.  Much too hot for the delicate wax I learned.

Overheating cappings wax not only destroys its colour but it greatly lessens the beautiful aroma as well.  Here's an excellent video on a one step slow melt oven process.  I like this for the safety as it's enclosed while melting for long periods of time in an oven.
When I slowly melted cappings in the oven on the lowest setting and leaving it for
hours and hours the wax that melted was bright yellow and also very clean and smelled amazing.

I wanted to know why the wax was bright yellow.  And that's what lead to further research where I learned I had been overheating my wax.

[Oven melt pan with wax, honey and a bit of water.  I use the darkened honey in mead making or baking.  I prefer to have the bees lick the wet cappings but don't always get that done.]

I now melt cappings either in the oven or a double boiler, but always with very low temperature over many hours.  And the wax is gorgeous and the colour is usually yellow/orange.

But here's what's happening now when it comes to selling. Customers are so used to the camel coloured beeswax that they think the yellow/orange wax isn't right or has been altered in some way and many seemed to prefer the camel coloured wax.

[My double boiler - water in the bottom and wax in the top]

A customer at the craft sale changed her mind on the lighter colour after she smelled the candles.  The camel colour had only some smell and the yellow/orange had a lot.  I can see some customer education is in order.  Maybe some beekeeper education too.

What are your experiences with melting wax?

Another important thing to do is to filter the wax.  I'll provide more info on how to do that soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Green Christmas Craft Sale

Dad (Lorne) and I spent the day selling our liquid honey, creamed honey, beeswax candles and body products - lotion bars, healing cream, muscle/joint warming cream and lip balms.

There's lots of Christmas shopping going on in November and December so it's a good time to earn some cash.

If you're a beekeeper, whether it's a living or a hobby, you've got bills to pay.

And keeping bees isn't cheap.

This table at a church craft sale cost $30.00 which is very reasonable.  No commissions on sales either.  Can't beat that kind of deal.

It's always enjoyable to meet customers face-to-face and also answer questions about bees.

Sales were good too which really helps.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

It's a Wrap

I put the bee cozy's on the hives a few weeks ago.  The black absorbs warmth from the sun really well and provides the hives with R8 insulation.  I get the wraps from NOD - the same company that makes the Mite Away strips.

As usual I left extra honey just in case we have a really long and cold winter. There's nothing worse than worrying about the bees all winter long because there's nothing you can do to help them.

In Canada once winter sets in the hives really shouldn't be opened as the lids are sealed with propolis to keep out drafts and also lifting off the lid releases all the heat.

I started with 16 hives in spring.  Lost one hive in the fall that went queenless - tried to save it but the robbing was so fierce they didn't stand a chance. I even took the hive home to reduce robbing but bees found the hive at home and robbed it there too.  That was frustrating.

I collected one swarm so ended up with 16 hives.  My plan was to not increase my count very much because they keep me very busy.

I hope your hives do well over the winter season, whether you're in a warmer climate or the cold great north!

Now's the time to think about increasing sales to pay for your equipment by dealing with the beeswax cappings you've collected.  That wax is waiting to turn into cash for you.

Stay tuned for a series of posts on some great things you can make with wax, recipes and instructions will be provided.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Honeycombs are actually built round

Honeycombs are made ROUND not hexagon.  It's the pressure of the adjoining cells that give it the hexagon shape.  Try it yourself with a soap bubble - it'll be round but when there's many soap bubbles they become hexagon shaped,: It's true.  We love the hexagon shape of combs but the bees don't build them in that shape.

It's the pressure of the adjacent cells that cause the round cells to become hexagon. You can test the method yourself by creating one soap bubble on your hand.

Then make many soap bubbles. You'll see that a single soap bubble is round but when there are many they become hexagon shaped.

Source book: The Buzz About Bees - Biology of a Superorganisim by Jurgen Tautz
The Buzz about Bees

This book is amazing and gives many facts about bees that I had never read about in other books and is well worth a read.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Some Good Bee Postures to Know

There are many different postures that bees can make and by observing they can teach you a lot about what they're up to.

This is a guarding pose.

I wouldn't mess with them if they're doing this karate-like pose.

Another Alert pose to watch for which means they're on guard or upset is when their antennae stick straight out.

Notice her antennae are on "high alert".

This is fanning.

They hunch their bodies and oscillate their wings in such a way as to draw air in or out of the hive.  Of course this technique doesn't involve flying.

Fanning is done to dehydrate the honey and also to pull hot air out of the hive in summer.  Fanning is also done after spreading water on the combs to air condition the hive.  It's also done to broadcast other chemical signals - see below.

This bee and in the photo below they are broadcasting the homing scent.

Note the little crack in the end of the butt.  You'll see a tiny tuft of white there.  That's exposing their Nasonov gland which is for home scent.

This is an important sign to see especially if collecting swarms.

Once you've tipped your swarm into a box, if you see them doing the home scenting with their butts in the air, you KNOW you've got the queen in the box.

And it's such an awesome thing to see at that time.  It's a high five moment :)

Friday, November 4, 2016

How bees choose a Home, Swarms and Dancing in Detail

This video talk by Dr Tom Seeley is fabulous.  He explains in great detail how bees choose a site, how the waggle dances progress and how the bees choose a site.

He's also written an excellent book called The Honeybee Democracy.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Honey Bee Waggle Dance and Democratic Decision-making

This is the best video I've seen to date that demonstrates the interpretation of the waggle dance.  It's easy to understand because they show the bees in slow motion and overlay the directional information.  Takes the mystery out of it.

Also and equally fascinating is what we now know is the "honey bee democracy".  The queen is not in charge of the hive.  Her job is as an egg layer.  She's far too busy to give instructions to the workers on what to do.

Instead, no one is actually in charge and decisions are made by a vote of the majority.  True democracy at work.

See the U-Tube video:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Leaf Cutter Bee Nest

Have you ever seen the perfect round holes cut into a broad leaf plant?  I have and I always wondered who did it?

It's the leaf cutter bee.  I have several Eastern Red Bud trees and they have very large heart shaped leaves.  Leaf cutter bees really like these leaves.

Once I saw a bee on the tree but she flew off too fast for me to get a better look.  So the photos are not mine.

But I did get these photos of the actual nest.

In one of my bee yards I have bricks on top of the hives to give weight against wind or predators.

One of these bricks has a groove in the top and I had it upsidedown.

This happened to make a perfect nest site.

Of course I never did this intentionally and discovered the nest when I lifted the brick up to do an inspection.

I used my hive tool to carefully lift up the two nests and shifted them to the hive next door while I worked on my hive.

Then while I was carefully putting everything back the way it was, mom came by.

She fussed with the leaves which I had disturbed a little bit and then she crawled into the end piece, obviously to lay an egg.

I thought she'd be a much bigger bee, but she was about the same size as a honey bee, with black and yellow stripes.

The leaves are rolled and folded like oragami.  It's amazing.  Then each leaf cup is nested into the next,.

Each cup would hold pollen and an egg which would pupate and then wait until spring to hatch.

The whole nest is very delicate because it's not glued together.

These bees are important pollinators for flowers and fruit trees.

So cool.  I put everything back very carefully.

Then I found another brick with the groove and I turned it upside down too and put it beside the other one.

Just in case she needed more room for her nest.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tell the Bees. Such Sad News

There is a saying in the beekeeping world that when a beekeeper dies you need to tell the bees that he or she has passed away.

We're telling the bees today that a very young man, 17 years of age, Jordan Hiemstra passed away on 23 Sept 2016.

We're all stunned and shocked at this sudden loss.

I met Jordan a couple times while visiting Clovermead Adventure Farm.

Jordan's family run the farm and Jordan started working there at a young age.

He showed me how to do old fashioned hand dipped candles in their set up for people to try.

The next time I met him we were both having bees poured on us to create a bee beard for the Bee Olympics at Clovermead.

It was the first time for both of us to wear a beard and we were nervous.

After the bees were on, we danced down the straw bale runway wearing our beards.  It was good fun.

Jordan won a beautiful bee award that day.

I'm so glad I have this lovely memory of him to share.

Please keep his mom and dad and family in your prayers.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Honey is all off

Ahhhh.  Finally it's that time of year when the almost daily trips to the yard are slowed down.

I finally got the last of the honey off the hives a couple days ago.  Dad (Lorne) does the processing so he'll be busy with that.

[photo before honey was removed]

We learned over the years to take honey off bit by bit all summer and that way we're not trying to process 20 or more supers all at once.  The little bee room couldn't fit all those boxes at once!

Another upside is that by processing all summer you don't have to keep running out and buying supers.  The first few years we didn't take honey off until Aug and I'd have to keep buying supers and stack them up on the hives.  And I'm a shorty so reaching those boxes I needed a step ladder.

All the hives have done well this year.  Not a bumper honey crop but a reasonable one.  I did leave most of the honey last year so I began taking that honey off in spring.  A few hives I left with extra boxes because they didn't have a lot.

[Photo of our bee room]

One have had gone queenless.  I missed that so I'm not impressed that they got to the point of a drone layer and I didn't notice.  There are still a lot of workers though.  So put in a queen in a cage, along with a frame of brood from another hive.  Before doing this I shook out all the bees, mostly to shake out the drones, and took away the empty and near empty boxes.  Because they didn't have much honey - it looked like one box got robbed out, I gave them a super of capped honey.  I reduced their entrances top and bottom.

Glad to see they started guarding within hours and I think that queen pheromone will give them a huge morale boost.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A new kind of mischief: Making Mead

My first year of beekeeping we had a terrible cold summer with rain almost every day.  The bees had a hard time getting their honey to cure.  Some of my honey from my first crop fermented.  But I ate it any way.

In subsequent years I'd have some honey get a slight fermented flavour and so I learned that some seasons the honey hasn't dried enough.  Often at the end of the season we have to remove frames of honey that aren't capped yet and that honey has more moisture in it.

I asked my mentor Henry what I should do with my honey that had too much moisture in it.  He said, "Make mead."  In case you didn't know, mead is wine made with honey = honey wine.

Often when the wetter honey from those uncapped frames is combined with a thicker more cured honey the wetness gets evened out and the honey will end up at or below the recommended 18% moisture level.  And that means it won't ferment.

That's where the importance of a refractometer comes in.  They are expensive and when starting up there are so many costs that it's often not purchased.  Until you get one you can save money and possibly your honey by taking samples of your honey to a beekeeping friend so they can test your honey with their meter.  Or maybe they'll let you borrow theirs.

When you know the moisture content of your honey that will tell you whether you need to get the dehumidifier going in the honey room to dry it up more.... or do what Henry advises and make Mead.

If you're in Ontario then you know we've had some really too hot to work days and then other days with rain.  I'd thought about making mead but I was concerned it would be too complicated.

Surprisingly, it's not.  I mean, if a Viking can do it without special equipment, so can I, right?  I did discover on two occasions I actually made mead but was unaware of it.  One occasion was when a couple inches of honey was left in a pail.  It had the lid on but it wasn't an airtight seal.  When I took the lid off months later there was about 2" of a thick white foam on top of the hoey and a soft pop sound when the lid came off.  The liquid was incredibly sweet, and alcoholic.  Viola!  I had inadvertently made mead.

[Pictures are of Peach mead]

Another occasion I accidentally made mead, I had some honey in a small jar and it must have had too much liquid in it because it totally turned into mead.  I can see why so many believe that honey was the first alcoholic drink man discovered.  Honey with a little water in it just seems to like to ferment and create mead out of itself without your help.  The combination of honey + water + a good airbourne yeast and it's off to the races.

The basics of making mead is putting several pounds of honey in a container, adding water, adding packaged yeast and then what's called an airlock - this could be a balloon with a pin hole i it (if you ever watched the TV show MASH then you would have seen Hawkeye's booze set up with the surgical glove as an airlock).  There are plastic airlocks that are most commonly used.  The way they work is they prevent oxygen getting in, but they allow the carbon dioxide to escape by bubbling out through water in the airlock.  The water is the barrier to stop the air getting in.

Adding fruit to mead is very popular and there are many examples and how to's on U-Tube and books.

The outlay of expenses to start up is very reasonable and many people make one gallon quantities first just to see if they like it.  Many of the references will mention the importance of "sanitization".  Just to clarify, that doesn't mean scrubbing everything with scalding hot water.  What it means is that your utensils and equipment are properly and normally washed and then are given a dip or quick soak in a safe chemical solution that is designed to kill all yeasts.  This way the only yeast introduced into your batch is the one that you pour in from your package.

What's really hilarious is that I'm not much of a drinker but I got really addicted to making the mead.  I have 11 gallons bubbling at the moment.  Most meads are "racked" which means the liquid is syphoned out into an empty jug leaving the old fruit or dead yeast behind (which gets thrown into the compost).  The clearer syphoned mead is again topped with an airlock for a about a month long sit until it's done fermenting.

Usually racking is done twice to make the liquid less cloudy and then you bottle it.  Most mead can be drunk after about three or four months.  Or like cheese, you leave it to age and the flavour just improves over time.

What I found surprising is that you can actually taste your mead at any point in the process to see how it's coming along and then make adjustments to improve the flavour.

Making mead is easy but patience for it to be ready to drink might be the hardest part.

One last thing, if you find a recipe off the internet or Pinterest, be sure to run it through the Mead Online Calculator because it'll be able to tell you how much honey and if you're using fruit it'll let you know how much is required.

Here are some links if you want to learn more, and a couple books to consider:
Book: Complete Mead Maker (
Book - How to Make Mead Like a Viking (
Online Forum: Home Brew Talk
Supplier: Danny's Wine & Beer London ON
U-Tube VIdeos: The Joy of Mead
Facebook: Wine & Mead Enthusiasts

Saturday, August 27, 2016

You might have noticed I haven't been blogging much the last few years.  Well, I kind of got sick, got busier, had trouble keeping up, got a lay off notice (they sent my job to Toronto), found another job, then spent a year and a half in training for the new job and then we were so busy they wouldn't let me take my holiday time off so I could work the bees.... swarms sat in trees and flew away while I sat behind a desk ... It was a frustrating time.  Yada yada yada.

So.  I'm back. And I hope to post more regularly.  Got the job all sorted out and things are so much easier now.  And I'm feeling much better too.

To catch up briefly, two winters ago I had 20 hives and in the spring I'd lost half.  What a mess to clean up dead hives.  Such an incredibly depressing job.  If you're a beekeeper you have either already experienced it or might in future--I certainly hope you never do.

I had not lost a single hive for 5 years and then I lost half just after corn was planted all around my yard.

Last year I lost one hive.  But it wasn't a good year.  The bees were requeening all summer and their numbers were low.  Most hives didn't make enough honey that I could take any.  I left extra boxes on and removed them this spring once the bees were going well.

This year I didn't lose any.  One hive was very weak but they've built themselves up beautifully.

It's been a very good season so far this summer.  Drought conditions and the hottest summer in Ontario in 135 years.  So record breaking.  Now we're getting the rains and I've had a few days at home (beekeeper's day off) and boy oh boy, have I ever gotten into mischief.  But more on that very soon.

Stay tuned!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Zombees do exist and found in Canada

Read about the phorid fly which has been found attacking a hive of bees in Vancouver BC.  It's reportedly the first time it's been spotted in Canada.

CBC report on Zombees