May 17, 2009

Saturday Morning at the Farm

Beekeeping Class at Delaney Farm
Hive Conversion: Langstroth to Top Bar with Marty Hardison

The class was more interesting than we thought it would be, partly because the course description was a bit off. No combs were cut from frames and tied to top bars. The demonstration was actually a transfer of bees, which were simply shook in. Bees from a lang went into a top bar hive, and bees from top bars went into a lang.

Things We Learned  For hive health, Marty recommends being "ruthless" with old combs - just get rid of 'em. We wondered about field mice, since the hives in Delaney's apiary are set on pallets directly on the ground. Marty says that if the Winter entrance reducer is put on too late a mouse can get in and just destroy a hive, but they aren't a problem if the colony is strong. He told his brother, who claimed to have a problem with mice, "No, you have a problem with your bees."

Old pollen is shiny, while new pollen is velvety in the comb. If you see shiny pollen, it's a sign that you have a queen problem. When there's lots of new brood, the bees use the pollen as fast as it comes in. If it's shiny/not getting used, then there aren't baby bees to feed and it's time to requeen.

Marty's a bit nonchalant with the bees. He doesn't wear gloves, and often pulls his veil down while working the bees. He stepped onto a pallet covered with bees and hundreds were squashed. No wonder he got stung 3 times. As did several students.

He's also kind of big on requeening, the topic of the July class. Some beekeepers routinely "pinch" their queen, replacing her every year or two, but we think Marty has another approach. He's working on a queen rearing program that will provide regionally adapted survivor stock options to the local community. Requeening's not uncomplicated, so stay tuned for more...

What's Blooming Near the Farm
Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
Purple Sensation (Allium aflatunense)
Nepeta faasenii 'Select Blue'

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