Monday, May 18, 2015

Crazy crazy crazy ...

It's been so busy on the bee front that I just haven't had the heart to write about all that's going on.  Because it's one step forward and three back.   After much work and effort, a good portion of our bees are dead or vanished.  Plus being out of town for a week just didn't allow much time to blog.

To sum up the bee situation.  The hive at home in the backyard is very strong and everything is smooth.  They may even get a honey super next week.

The hives at the bee farm are in pretty bad shape. Only one out of five hives is strong and a survivor.  And one hive has about a 10% chance of making it.  The others are gone.  Varroa mites, hive beetles and wax moths really took their toll.  Pesticides is also a possibility for some of the problems.  AND a virus that may have been introduced by the varroa.

After doing battle with all these bee killing dilemmas, I have learned A LOT.  My next batch of bees will be better prepared to combat all these possible threats.  The bee yard has been resurfaced with crushed shell which will aid in fighting the hive beetle larvae hatching into attacking beetles.  Plus I'm working with another fairly new beekeeper and we're coming up with modifications to the hives that will take into consideration the Florida factor and how hive beetles enter the hive.  Hopefully this will limit the bee losses.  Around the country beekeepers are losing on average 60% of their bees annually.  So far this year in only a few months I've already lost 70% !!!  But I'm in this battle for the long run and will continue to perfect my beekeeping.

And the other reason I'm not blogging is it would be one disaster after another.  The gardening has been consecutive problems one after another.  The way I'm trying to face that is instead of looking at all the plants getting decimated by insects, critters and mold, I'm will positively focus on all the plants that are doing well and thriving.  And plenty of them are doing well.   But the bottom line is that whole thing is also going to have to be rethought.  I tried using natural tonics from Jerry Baker's books to create organic veggies.  Only problem is the tonics don't seem to work and even make things worse sometimes.  So I need to talk to some master gardeners and get some solid advice before the fall planting season.  This summer I'll just focus on ornamentals and work on irrigation and shading some areas.  And that's ok ... another learning process which is how most people learn before getting a beautiful perfect garden.  Just like the bees, it will be much better next year.

We've harvested some honey already.  Tonight we harvested 5 frames of honey on our new motorized extractor.  And it worked great.  The extractor is a good quality American made 6/9 frame extractor.  Quite an extravagance but as I said earlier, I'm in this for the long run.  The frames came from a hive that needed to have the honey super removed.  Their numbers were so decimated that they were spending most of their energy fending off robbers.  No foraging was going on and I'm pretty sure this hive will be done by the end of the month.  No queen, no brood, no foraging .... things look pretty grim.  If I can give them some brood and a queen they may have a chance but that's a longshot.

The magic swarm trap / magic oak tree are unfortunately no longer attracting swarms.  Because I could sure use some more bees around now.