The Beeyard Report -- September
Working with bees can be a humbling experience.
About the time you think you know what you are doing, the bees
teach you a lesson. The last couple of years I had started to
regard myself as the king of comb honey. The reality is that Peter
Coyle is undoubtedly the king. I would probably have trouble making
it as the crown prince.
My only advice for producing comb honey is to
find a good yard. I usually have good success choosing the colonies
to do it. This year, I did not. It was blow to my ego. I like
to do sections on single story colonies with new queens. The flow
started really early this year. The singles weren’t ready
so I put most of the cut comb boxes on the over wintered doubles.
This was after they had filled the first honey super. We only
run eight frames in the regular honey supers so the bees are usually
drawing a little wax when I put the comb honey boxes on. I had
nine colonies in my favorite yard with comb honey boxes. Out of
those nine, there were only two that actually did any comb honey.
Adam started moving the boxes around and we finally got them filled
up after I got out of the picture.
It has been the honey flow of a lifetime for
us. As I write this, we are working on barrel #102. We had to
borrow a forklift so we could stack the barrels. There wasn’t
any room left in the warehouse. I’m not real sure how I
am going to get them unstacked in the dead of winter but I guess
I’ll deal with that problem when the time comes.
Anthony had to go back to school August 17th.
He was disappointed that he wasn’t around to put the lid
on Barrel #100. #99 was about half full when he left. He wanted
Alex and Adam to go get some more honey but they got rained out.
It left him a little short of his goal. To put this in perspective,
we only had 20 barrels of our honey extracted when he left for
school last year.
We have continued to have trouble with our new
extractor. When I say new, keep in mind that it’s three
years old. I wrote last month that we were having trouble with
the speed control. It turned out that the speed control wasn’t
the source of the problem. There was a bad bearing on the bottom
of the reel that was putting too much drag on the motor. It took
a couple of conversations with the metal plant before we figured
this out. I replaced the bearing and everything worked fine. When
Anthony was on his last barrel, the speed control started to blow
fuses again. This time both the bearing at the bottom of the reel
and the pillow block at the top were really stiff. All the while,
my old extractor (circa 1982), with the homemade drive system,
has not missed a beat.
The last of our queens went off to South Carolina
today. I’ve been surprised that we have gotten a number
of calls from the East Coast. This is not a big revenue stream
for us but a lot of little streams can make a river. I also like
the flexibility it gives us in maintaining our colony numbers.
I have been exploring an export possibility as
a possible outlet for some of my honey. The thing I found amazing
was that it costs more to get honey from Lynnville to Chicago
than it does to get it from Chicago to Hong Kong. When I was checking
on freight rates, one of the people I talked to was Chinese lady.
She told me that the Chinese people love honey but they know that
Chinese honey is not pure. This seems to me the ultimate irony
since Chinese honey is flooding into the US and driving down the
I am not very optimistic that I am going to get
the job done but it would feel really good to send some the other
Submitted by Phil Ebert