August 22, 2014

Work Smarter, Not Harder

5 Gallon Honey Bucket - Image courtesy of The Honey Exchange

This article is mainly for parttimers, not you big people with rooms full of stainless-steel equipment and vacuum pumps. Bucket Handling As I extracted last season’s late honey crop, I often found myself lifting buckets, whether up onto a strainer perched on another bucket, or up to the countertop for bottling. Long ago, at EAS in Delaware, the honey show included a Gadgets category, and a … [Read more...]

Of Bears and Bees

Of Bears and Bees

Maine is bear country. Our state has the largest black bear population (23,000 estimated) in the United States (Matula, 1997), east of the Mississippi River. Bear habitat is forest land and Maine’s 32,000-square-mile area is 95% forested with a mixed growth of evergreens and hardwoods. About 80% of the State’s forested land is privately owned timberland, and open areas of farmland are … [Read more...]

Wouldn’t Your Life Be Better with a Bee Buddy?

Louise Sullivan and Elinor Redmond

Part I by Louise Sullivan; Part II by Elinor Redmond Part I: Louise Confessions of a Slap-Dash Beekeeper I’ve had bees in my backyard since 2007. Motivated by the desire to be a friend to bees, I took Beginning Beekeeping from Rick Cooper, built a hive and installed a package of unsuspecting Italians from Georgia. It was a blissful first summer. The hive flourished and survived the winter in … [Read more...]

Being Prepared with a Swarm Kit

To avoid forgetting essential tools, I wrote the items I usually need in my swarm kit right on the lid of my tote.

The call came in from the Run of the Mill Pub in Saco about a swarm clustered on a sapling tree near the riverwalk. Once we arrived we realized all the people on the patio of the pub would be our audience for the afternoon. The plan was simple: Meghan Gaven was atop the stepladder and would push the little tree downward while Richard McLaughlin pulled the same direction with a rope. All I had to … [Read more...]

Now, This Is a Swarm!

Now, This Is a Swarm!

by Andrew Dewey When you hear the term “swarm,” what do you think of? A crazed ant mound in the summer time? The Dark Lord’s host emptying out of Mordor? A colony of honey bees that has decided to reproduce? Since we’re beekeepers, we’ll (briefly) explore honeybee swarms — focusing here on what happens when you are confronted with a swarming cloud of bees, and not with how to keep the bees from … [Read more...]

Queen Rearing with Marla Spivak

marla-spivak-featured-image

“It’s time to be gentle guys,” intoned Marla Spivak as the 7 members of my group from the class of 30 filed into the darkened lab room. We were about to learn how to graft one-day old larvae under the watchful eyes of Marla and Judy Wu, a PhD candidate studying the effects of neonicotinoids. This was July 7, 2012 the morning of day two of the two-and-a-half day Queen Rearing Short Course … [Read more...]

Is Your Honey Bucket Food-safe?

Is Your Honey Bucket Food-safe?

by Randal Carr, Greenville It is a common practice to obtain a honey gate and install it in a 5-gallon plastic bucket for honey storage and bottling. The money savings alone can make the extra effort worth your time. However, not all buckets you find in hardware stores are food-safe. Two of the most important considerations that affect safety are whether the bucket contains recycled … [Read more...]

Myths of Beekeeping

Myths of Beekeeping

As you learn more each year about the bees, you may come across some strange ideas. Most of these weird concepts come from a friend, who heard it from a friend. Usually they make complete sense when you hear them, but later, you may wonder (about the weird idea, not the friend). Here are a few myths of beekeeping which have been perpetuated over the years, and are hard to kill. Myth #1: You need … [Read more...]

Inspector’s Comments, Fall 2012

Tony Jadczak, Maine State Apiarist

Over the years, my sons, assistant inspectors and commercial beekeepers alike have commented that I only get enthusiastic working bees when we encounter “bad stuff.” I immediately refute such comments, but must confess that they are true to an extent. Bad stuff like American foulbrood, pesticide kills and bears irritate rather than excite me, while the sight of bees hauling in nectar is exciting … [Read more...]

Preparing for Swarm Season

Front view of a hivebody-style bait hive for catching swarms; the vertical board is for nailing and/or tying to a tree trunk or other structure. The hardware cloth on the front entrance is there to prevent mice from moving in. PHOTO: ANNE FREY

Making Your Own Bait Hives Now that you’re finished with your winter of building and repairing supers, brood boxes and frames, think about the possibility of building bait hives in preparation for the May/ June swarm season. A bait hive is a swarm-catching box. I have captured some nice swarms in boxes set in trees, and it seems easier than answering a swarm call, which may come at an … [Read more...]