Sunday, November 28, 2010

I See Dead Bees

I know the bees are alive because I saw a bunch of their dead today.

We have had such a mild fall this year. We had highs in the 60's clear into November. The last few weeks have turned cold and snowy, though. I hadn't seen the bees in quite a while and then the snow came. It blew into the entrances and froze in place so the bees had no way to get out even if they wanted to. I pressed my ear against the sides of the hives and knocked- last winter I could always hear a buzz coming from inside, but this time I heard nothing. I was a little worried that they were not ready for the cold snap and that something had happened to them. I shouldn't have worried- bees have been taking care of themselves for millions of years.

I took a walk over to the hives today and saw some good news- dead bees. With the warmer temps the last few days the ice in the entrances melted and the bees began clearing out some of the dead that had accumulated inside the hives. There were about 10 dead bees laying on top of the snow in front of each hive. As the winter progresses we will find more bees that die and are cleared out by the bees left inside. They are very hygienic creatures.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Crystallizing Honey

It's happening a little earlier than it did last year.

Last year we extracted honey in September and it finally started crystallizing in about March. This year we extracted at the beginning of September and we have been seeing signs of crystallization for a couple of weeks now. The honey is getting cloudier and cloudier. I guess this year there must have been more nectar sources with higher glucose contents. Honey with a high glucose content will crystallize more quickly and honey with a high fructose content will crystallize more slowly- it all depends on the nectar source. I could tell that this year's honey is a little different from last year's- it is a little darker in color and its flavor is, for lack of a better work, a little "fuller".

It really doesn't bother me that is crystallizing now- it is not difficult to reliquify. Besides that, a sticky honey jar is one of my pet peeves. We use a lot of our honey on top of oatmeal, and the kids are always stickifying the jar when they transfer honey to the oatmeal. Once it crystallizes the kids can scoop out some crystallized honey without making a mess- the honey relifquifies as it is mixed into the hot oatmeal. It's a win-win. The kids still get their honey and I don't have to deal with a sticky honey jar!

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