Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bee Happy Today!

I went out this morning to check my bees. I was not too terribly thrilled with what I found in the backyard hive. I was please to see the bees had filled in all of the brood box frames, but they hadn't even begun to pull out the comb on the honey supers! I can't take honey off the brood box or they'll starve to death in the winter time.

So, in frustration, I decided to check the blueberry bees today too. I was much happier! The bees have filled up almost all of one whole honey super and will begin working on the second super very soon! Each of these supers will hold about 30 pounds of honey. So maybe, just maybe - if the bears, raccoons, skunks, and every other wild creature will leave my hive alone! - I will have some raw honey to sell this year!

Geared up to go check the bees.

The backyard hive.

A VERY important tool. The smoker. I like to burn hay in it because I feel it's more natural. The smoke is puffed on the bees to make them more docile.

IPM (Integrated Pest Management) One of the biggest problems facing honey bees today is the varroa mite. The mites suck fluids from the bees, weakening them, and eventually weakening and killing the whole hive. The mites love to have part of their life cycle in the bigger capped cells of the drone bees.

So I put these special green frames with larger hexagons which encourages the mites to go into them. Everyone once in awhile, when I find a nice bunch of capped drone brood like this, I take the frames out and put them in the freezer to kill the mites.

The hive doesn't need very many drones - so the hive isn't injured by their loss. Then when the mites are killed I put the frame back in the hive and it "vacuums" more drones out.

A beautiful frame with perfect brood in the middle and honey around the top. The honey frames are in a special box above the hive that has a queen excluder to keep the queen from laying eggs. Thus, lots of honey and no brood!

Hopefully, in future blogs, I'll be able to show you pictures of honey being extracted!

Heather asked me to bake "something sweet" today. So I made her this recipe. I have a LOT of zucchini to use up! : )

Zucchini Chocolate Cake
from "The Practical Produce Cookbook"

1-1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/2 c. milk 1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
2 c. shredded, peeled zucchini (I don't peel mine - the kids are used to the little green bits and I think it pumps up the nutrition to leave on the peel)

Cream sugar, butter, and oil. Beat in eggs, milk, and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and add. Stir in zucchini. Pour into buttered 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake at 350-degrees for about 40 minutes.

I dust mine with confectioners sugar, but you can frost it or glaze it - whatever suits your fancy.

8 eggs today - Happy dance!

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