Michigan’s 1st Annual Honey Festival

This past weekend was the first annual Michigan Honey Festival. I went with a good friend of mine and had so much fun. My husband lent me his D200, the one camera he felt completely fine parting with as it’s his oldest digital camera – haha! It was fun acting like a photojournalist for the day.

There were many activities throughout the day. Rich Wieske, who heads up Green Toe Gardens apiary, was there performing as the bearded man. There was craftmaking for the kids, cooking demonstrations and mead-making demos (Ken Schram) for the adults, live hive walk-throughs for everyone, as well as lots of vendors selling beekeeping equipment, honey (of course), lotions, chap sticks, and bee-friendly plants.

Here are the photos from the Honey Festival.

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White Spots and Smears

Looking at some of my bees doing the washboarding thing at the front of the hive entrance, I noticed several of them had either tiny white dots speckled on them (on the thorax of most of them, but I did see one with a couple speckles on its eye) or a grayish smear across the abdomen. I didn’t really see it on any of the returning or leaving foragers, however. It seemed to primarily be on the young bees doing their duty on the front porch.

I can’t really find any information about what it could be except that it might either be tulip poplar or fecal matter from varroa mites. I really hope it’s not the latter. I have not seen any varroa in my hive, and with the intense heat as of lately I would be surprised if any mites could survive. I’m going to have to get into the hive and check things out this weekend, varroa can be devastating to a colony.

The 1st Annual Michigan Honey Festival is this weekend in Imlay City (I know, I know, I’m absolutely bee crazy), and so I’m definitely going to see if anyone there knows what the white spots could be.

To Feed, or Not to Feed, That Is the Question

I’ve been a little conflicted about whether to feed my bees during this very dry period we’re experiencing in the D. On one hand, if I feed them I’d probably be seeing a lot more comb being built which is essential in order for the bees to store the honey they need for over-wintering, but on the other hand, I’d be giving my little girls junk food.

Today, I’m opting for the junk food. It’s not a truly organic approach, but I will sleep better knowing that my bees have happy bellies and are better equipped for pulling the wax they need for their combs. I’m making some simple syrup now with a 1:2 ratio of sugar to water. I’ll let you know what results I observe from this.

Bottom Board Trouble

Tomorrow I was planning on doing my next inspection of the hive, if the weather fairs well, but I walked around the hive today and was troubled by what I saw. My bottom board is splitting open!

I don’t know how long it has been like this since I usually do my daily observations and occasional inspections of the bees while standing on the other side of my hive which is not directly in the bee line path. I’m not exactly sure what to do to fix this, if it’s salvageable, other than to purchase another bottom board and swap it out. I imagine I will have to fix this before winter in order to help prevent moisture from getting into the hive?

Here are some blurry photos I took of what’s going on. Any suggestions on what to do here would be greatly appreciated.

Where’s the A/C in this hive?

Hot day for the bees! It got up to 100 degrees in Michigan today, record breaking weather! The bees were exploding with activity early on in the day (for you local people, of course this was just prior to the crazy, severe thunderstorm we had that produced lovely hail and downed trees), and so I went to do my (now) usual check of the bottom board to clean it off. To my surprise, I found four workers just kind of walking around on the white board. I thought this was kind of strange since it would take them a little bit of effort to get in there, but being that it is the lowest point of the hive it seemed to make sense that they would want to congregate there if it’s really hot out. In my usual burst of curiosity, I explored on the web why they might be doing this and one blog mentioned that on hot days with all the bee bodies inside the hive the temperature can get too high so some of the bees will congregate at the entrance and bottom boards which allows for the brood to remain at their necessary temperature. They also can do a thing called bearding where they all clasp onto one another and dangle in a beard shape from the entrance of the hive – I haven’t seen my girls do this yet but the blog compared this act to chilling out on the front porch with some cold ones – ha! I feel your pain, my little ladies, where’s the a/c when you need it?