How to Find Store Beekeeping Section

A sure sign of the store beekeeping section, bees flying overhead!

A sure sign of the store beekeeping section, bees flying overhead!

How to Find the Beekeeping Store Section

Busy, busy, busy this year, so busy that I barely glance around stores as I pop in. Our local hardware stores have picked up on the beekeeping interest but sometimes I have to check all of them before I find what I need. 

On this particular day, I had just heard the first winter 2018 forecast on the radio. I never quite know whether the bellybutton of Missouri falls into the northern plains or the east coast, especially when they don't even mention a state remotely close. I hope we have a little bit of a break, or more of a break than we had last year, I thought as I popped into yet another hardware store.

It's honey harvesting time, and a friend had told me there were some plastic bear jars locally in stock. Not a particular fan of those containers, I was going to give them another look before I decided if I would use them this year if I could remember what store he had said he found them.

 It's a personal thing. My bees work SO hard to make honey, I like to package their hard work in a way that honors the gift they give us. Actually we take it from them when they make extra but I digress.

So this particular hardware store had recently changed hands, and inventory. They were also transitioning from summer to Christmas so my usual aisle haunts were gone. Sad but true, I was lost.

Around one of the corners, a lady was stocking shelves so I decided to ask for help. Did she happen to know how I could find the beekeeping supplies?

She gave me a smile and pointed towards the ceiling. Several stuffed bees were hanging around a mannequin in a bee suit. Not quite a swarm but definitely a good clue!

Charlotte

Why Honey Frames Should Be Frozen Before Storing

This was the last honey frame in the bottom box from a pile of six, 10 frame boxes.

This was the last honey frame in the bottom box from a pile of six, 10 frame boxes.

Why Honey Frames Should Be Frozen Before Storing

It's always tempting to say it won't happen to me, or I don't see them, or not to concentrate on the warnings I pass on at our bee club meetings. See, I know some of you are snoozing when I talk about it but here's why I say honey frames should be frozen before storing.

I had six boxes of honey frames stacked in my cold basement utility room as I cycled the frames through my tiny freezer before storing them in plastic totes. The honey frames were beautiful, all drawn out across the foundation, some even foundationless, not a hint of trouble as I cycled through the boxes.

By the time I got down to the bottom box, it was easy to think I got through this honey batch without any problems until I pulled out that last honey frame. Up in the upper right hand quadrant of one side of the frame was the telltale signs of small hive beetle larvae, and it was apparent they had had some time to enjoy the fruits of the honeybees labor before I found them.

Close up of the culprits, small hive beetle larvae in empty comb.

Close up of the culprits, small hive beetle larvae in empty comb.

Needless to say, I wrapped the frame up in plastic and stuck it in the freezer to kill off the bugs.

I tend to leave small hive beetle larvae in the freezer for a good week before pulling the frames out, washing it off before it thaws out and letting the bees rob out the honey and clean out the comb.

That is one of the many benefits of having bees, they are meticulous housekeepers. If I have a honey spill of any kind, or leftover honey in a container, I take it outside and let the bees clean it out. They do fast work and leave it squeaky clean so that I can then easily wash it without sticking to it myself.

Now can you imagine what this, and the other frames of honey, would have looked like, and smelled like, had I stored it straight into the plastic tote?

I don't even want to think about it!

Charlotte

New Bee Syrup Feeder

My honeybees taking a drink of hummingbird sugar water at a hummingbird feeder.

My honeybees taking a drink of hummingbird sugar water at a hummingbird feeder.

New Bee Syrup Feeder

There are only a very few situations where I recommend feeding bees sugar syrup to supplement what they may find in nature; catching swarms and when making two-frame splits come immediately to mind. There may be other special situations but, in general, I try not to feed my honeybees sugar syrup.

My bees apparently don't agree. Right after hanging my hummingbird feeders around the garden, with a 4 to 1 water/sugar syrup, one of the hummingbird feeders was getting emptied out faster than the rest. Suspecting my resident raccoon may have been sipping the sugar water, I started watching the hummingbird feeder shortly after filing in.

No big visitors to the feeder but bees were constantly around it. Even when I took the hummingbird feeder down to wash out and replenish, bees were waiting for the hummingbird feeder's return.

No other feeders have regular bee visitors like this one. It is within the flight path of one of my hives so maybe that's what makes it a popular stopping point as they head out to find pollen sources.

And the hummingbird feeder?

It has little slits designed to allow hummingbirds access but supposedly keeps everyone else out, including bees.

Maybe they should promote it as a bee syrup feeder instead!

Charlotte