Friday, June 27, 2014

Forgotten Spring Photos

I downloaded photos off of my phone and found some I completely forgot to post on this blog. The photos show how amazing the spring flowers are in one of the gardens where we keep our beehives in Brooklyn. Don't these irises look amazing? I wonder if the honeybees like them.
Here's a view from another angle. Way in the back are the beehives.
A closeup of the irises. So pretty!
Closer to the hive are some blooming alliums. I just love these flowers. They remind me of cotton balls!
Here is our other beehive location. The fun part of this location is that we are always greeted by Oscar the kitty who lives at this location. He loves it when we are doing a beekeeping inspection. He watches us beekeep the entire time.
On this day, we also had to build our bee nucleus that we purchased. I've been wanting to raise bee nucleuses for awhile. I finally went ahead and ordered a kit.
And here is the nucleus completely built. It looks awesome! I can't wait to raise nucs!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Heartbreaking Inspection

Last week, we installed two new bee nucleuses into 2 of our hives. Therefore, we were excited to do an inspection to check on the status of the installed nucs. A bee nucleus is a miniature hive that you can purchase instead of a bee package. It usually consists of 4 - 5 frames with a laying Queen, and the frames should contain brood, pollen, and honey. I just love the look of the old nuc frames next to the new bee frames in our new hive!
The new bee Nucleus is looking great, the Queen is laying well and there was pollen in the frames which meant they have been foraging well. However, what's not looking great is the green hive. For the 3rd week in a row, we've seen a pile of dead bees in front of the hive. It's completely heartbreaking. We think it's probably a poisoning of some sort, most likely pesticide spray. We thought by now that whatever the bees were exposed to would have gone away from all the rain we've been getting. But seeing this means they are still being afflicted. Not knowing who is spraying makes this incredibly frustrating. Because the bees are obviously feeding on sprayed plants.
We saw a lot of bees on their backs unable to flip themselves around.
I took this video of the honeybee on her back. When I pulled the cover, she was moving her legs trying to flip over, but she did not have the strength to do so.

I filmed the front entrance of the hive as well. The bees in the front were walking around disoriented and shaking their bodies. They don't normally act like this. It makes me extremely sad.

Here is the inside of the hive. More of the same strange behavior. The only thing we can really do is to wait and see if the bees can overcome this. Hopefully there are still enough worker bees in the hive to get all the tasks done in the beehive. Luckily, the Queen is still alive and laying well. Since she is still alive and healthy, we have hope the hive will bounce back. We had pesticide poisoning happen to our hives before in the past and the hive never recovered from it. The numbers dwindled and they didn't make it through the winter because there weren't enough of them to keep warm. Hopefully this is early enough in the season that the Queen will keep continuing to lay and the numbers will go up.

Next, we went to the other beehive location. Fortunately for us, the beehives are doing amazing. The Nucs have a couple of frames of nicely patterned brood. That means the Queen is laying really well. Look how beautiful this frame is.
Here is a closeup of another frame. This was full of bees, honey, and brood.
We spotted the Queen on another frame. This Nuc came with a marked Queen which makes it so easy to find her. None of our other hives comes with a marked Queen. Look how amazing she looks!
After we finished with the inspections, we headed over to the farmer's market which is a few blocks from the beehives. Our beehost told us that they had a farm vendor there that sold free range eggs for only $4 a dozen!  $4!!! What an amazing deal! The farmer's market near my apartment sells free range eggs for $6 a dozen, so this is a great bargain! You really can't beat fresh farm eggs from a local farm. Incredible!
Look at these beauties! Aren't they gorgeous? Now that I know where to find fresh eggs like that, I'll be stopping by here every time I go beekeeping from now on! Score!!! Great find!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Homemade Ginger Ale

Ever since we've been getting seltzer delivered every month from the Brooklyn Seltzer Boys, I've been absolutely obsessed with coming up with different kinds of homemade syrups to make sodas with. I looked up a recipe for Ginger syrup to make homemade ginger ale. I followed this recipe except instead of 2 cups of sugar, I only used 1 cup of sugar. I don't like sodas too sweet and this was just about right for my taste when I cut the sugar in half. This recipe is really easy, and what I loved about it was that the prep time is really minimal. It's just mainly cutting up some ginger, and you don't even have to peel the ginger! How easy is that?
Add the cut ginger to a non-reactive pot, then add sugar and water and boil. Once it's boiling, lower to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to reduce it down to a syrup. Then turn off the heat and let it cool. That's it. Easy peasy!
I used a funnel to pour the syrup into a bottle, add some seltzer and voila!
I poured in a half an inch of syrup, then topped it off with cold seltzer! YUM. So refreshingly good! This is a keeper!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Installing My New Bee Nucleus

This past weekend, we took a drive to Beehive Barn to pick up our new bee nucleuses. We ordered 2 Nucs from them because we've had great success with this NJ apiary. We did really well with two of our beehives surviving the winter with these hygenic bee stock. So we have been continuing to buy our bees exclusively from them. Beehive Barn is on this amazing piece of property in Cranbury, NJ. The property is dotted with barns and greenhouses, a real nice piece of farmland, with lots of land for the bees to forage in. This was the perfect day to pick up bees. Sunny, clear day, just fantastic! Aren't those just perfect clouds in the sky? Pretty right?
Sally, who owns the Beehive Barn, said we could go into the yard and pick out our own Nuc from the many nucs she had. She has about 70 hives, so we had a lot to choose from. Is this not incredible?
Here is another view with more boxes. Love. Love.
We brought our beekeeper suits and gear with us. Here we are puting together some cardboard boxes for the new nuc.
Here we are inspecting one of the Nuc boxes. We are looking for a box with frames of nice brood pattern and frames with pollen. We realized that we should have brought with us a smoker, that would have helped a great deal since the bees weren't too happy that we were opening the Nucs. They were getting slightly agitated from us opening the hive and the smoke would have calmed them down tremendously. I was stung here on the knee when we pulled frames. Ouch. We made sure we saw the Queen and we put the frames into the cardboard box and taped up the box for the car. We made sure we taped the lid pretty good. Last thing you want is the box to tip over and 10,000 bees spilling out into your car. LOL.
One of the things I love about this apiary are the chickens on the property. I saw this beautiful rooster checking us out! Sally gave us a dozen fresh farm eggs as a gift. That was so nice and thoughtful! I love fresh farm free range eggs, they taste so much better than supermarket eggs!
On the property, she also had this trailer with lots of Nucs lined up. I had to take a photo of this. I just love the look of these Nucs in a row!
We selected our Nucs and headed to Brooklyn to our two beehive locations. At our first stop, we added  the frames into our new beehive! Woohoo! We now have two hives in this backyard location! I cannot be happier!
Then we headed to our second beehive location. For this one, we decided to combine the Nuc to an existing beehive that survived the winter but has no active Queen. To combine the Nuc we added a deep box to the bottom, put the Nuc frames in with some empty deep frames. Then we placed newspaper between the bottom deep and the boxes of the existing hive. The worker bees will start to eat through the paper to get to the Queen. The purpose of the newspaper is to allow the old bees and new bees to become acquainted with each other's pheromones and with the pheromones of their new Queen. This is to prevent the old bees from killing the new Queen. By the time they eat through the newspaper, which should take only a few days, they will accept the new Queen.
Sadly, this day wasn't all happiness. We noticed at our green hive that there were lots of dead bees in front of the hive. There was a pile of at least an inch deep of dead bees. This was heartbreaking. We looked closely at the bees in front of the hive entrance and they looked like they were disoriented and walking in circles. We have seen this in the past. We had a die off in one of our hives and we suspected it was because of pesticide spraying or they were somehow poisoned by something toxic. Ugh. This makes me so sad. The only thing we can do is hope the Queen is healthy and that they will bounce back! Since this is our healthiest hive, I think they will definitely come back in numbers. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I Love Spring!

This past weekend, I visited my parents again. I love this time of year because all the flowers around the house are in full bloom! My dad is a big time gardener. He loves planting and taking care of plants. It's probably why I love it too. Check out this climbing rose bush and the peonies next to it. There were bursting with blooms! I just love these colors and the fragrance is incredible! The smell of roses and peonies are so amazing!
I decided to pick some flowers from the garden to bring home. How insanely beautiful is this? And all grown in my parent's front yard!
And here is the freshly picked bouquet in my bathroom! So pretty! If only they lasted longer than a week!
I also wanted to check out the blueberry bush I planted in the backyard 2 months ago. Wow, it's doing so well! Look how healthy the plant is. Last time I was here, I spotted some flowers blooming and I wondered if any blueberries would grow.
I spotted 4 blueberries! I practically jumped for joy! This makes me soooo happy! I can't wait until next year to see how well this plant does with producing fruit! Woot, woot!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sweet Golden Goodness!

Last Saturday during our beehive inspection in Brooklyn, we looked at the honey super to see how things were going. We were mainly just checking to see if they had built out the wax on the frames. But to our surprise, in just two weeks time, they had literally built out a whole frame of honey! We were astounded! A whole frame of freshly capped honey! Just two weeks ago, this was a brand new frame with new foundation! This is incredible! They are so prolific and fast!
I had to fight ever fiber of my being to not unzip my hood and lick the darn thing. Hahahaha. The smell is also incredible. If you ever get an opportunity to get up close to a fresh frame of raw honey, do it. The smell is so sweet and intoxicating. Counting down the days until we can harvest these bad boys! I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Look Back at Mother's Day Flowers

Two week's ago, I went home for mother's day and bought and planted some flowers for my mom. It's pretty much a tradition in my family. We buy flowering plants for mom and we plant them in the yard. I much prefer giving plants to giving fresh cut flowers because they last so much longer! And if you buy a flowering perennial, they bloom year after year. It's a gift that keeps on giving! This year, I bought her these pretty begonias. How insanely beautiful is this deep yellow color?
I also bought her some mini dahlias. I just loved these deep orange and red colors. So pretty!
My mom's dogwood tree is also blooming right now. I love the color!
Over 10 years ago, we bought my mom a peony bush. Year after year, it blooms a spectacular show of flowers! I picked one to bring home. How pretty is this?  My mom loves the bush, whenever it blooms she says, it reminds her of that mother's day.
Here is a view of the bloom 2 days later. The scent is amazing. Peonies are definitely my favorite flowers. I just love them! They definitely are show stoppers! Just gorgeous!

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