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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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.

What Not To Do!

I had been away for a day trip to NY yesterday, and so the first thing I did when I got home was to go look and see how the bees were doing. Storm clouds were moving in fast at that time, so I put a brick on the the outside top cover of  the hive to ensure it wouldn’t blow away, and I also collected the feeder with the mason jar and ran inside my house just as it started pouring down rain. As I came into the house I heard a loud crack from above my head and saw my neighbor’s giant trees swaying significantly due to the strong wind that had suddenly picked up, and so I placed feeder on the kitchen counter safely inside so that there was no chance of having to clean-up broken glass tomorrow, and then I ran back outside to move my car up further in the driveway – hopefully to avoid any huge tree branches from totaling my car.

When I got back inside the house, and whew! all of this happened within the first couple minutes of being home (finally), my husband is yelling something about bees are in the house – and oh my, they certainly were! They had still been inside the feeder that I had just brought in and I hadn’t checked that it was vacant before I brought it in. So now those bees are flying everywhere, totally confused as to where they are, flying at the windows, flying at the light bulbs, buzzing everywhere!

Luckily it was just a few, and we were able to strategically capture them and set them free outside. The lesson here is: Be sure to check your Boardman Feeder before ever bringing it inside a house or other establishment. Or better yet, just leave it outside – ha!

Tomorrow is Bee-day!!

This is it! The night before I bring home my little ones. Time to go through the checklist.

– EpiPen training – check!

– Special clothing laid out – check!

– Simple syrup made – check!

– Hive set-up and facing southeast – eh, I’ll do that tomorrow….

– 5 frames removed to make room for the nuc frames – check!

– Water source ready – check!

– Hat & veil, and gloves packed for the road trip – check!

– Smoker and fuel all set – check!

– Video camera charged! – check!

Well, guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Here goes it.

Dec’ the Hive

This is just one picture of how my hive is coming along. I actually finished decorating it this weekend but the photographer wants to capture it as a whole under special lighting circumstances tomorrow morning;) I used my acrylic Liquitex paints. The colors will dull over time with exposure to UV rays, but I think that’s ok. I had looked into matte medium varnish to protect from UV but it’s probably better the less chemically types of things I put on the hive. One more picture to come hopefully tomorrow so you can see what it looks like before I put my bees into it.

Besides decorating the hive, I’m doing some last minute preparations this week. Went out and bought a mason jar today for my boardman feeder. This is a hive entrance feeder that I will put my simple syrup in to feed the bees and help get them acclimated into their new home. It’s a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar (just plain sugar). I wasn’t really sure where to buy a mason jar from, searching online Kmart kept popping up. I don’t usually shop there but they had a whole pack of them in the regular quart size for $10. I just needed one, but these are the kind of thing that won’t go to waste.

Maybe I’ll try canning this year. I’m hoping to do some tomatoes, but we haven’t planted any yet and we have some other priorities. So far we have planted arugala, kale, beets, 3 blueberry plants (one is from last year, we learned you need more than one to be able to produce anything), some sunflowers, and 2 bloomerang lilac bushes. It’s a pretty good start, but we’re aiming to do what’s called a 3 Sisters Garden too. That’s basically corn, squash, and beans. The beans climb up the corn stalks and put in nitrogen or nitrites (I forget which) to the soil that the other plants take out, and squash grows really sprawly with the leaves catching the sunlight that otherwise would block other plants from growing in the shadow of the corn stalks, so it ends up being a really good combination of plants. The squash seeds that we are getting from Seedsavers is a type of pumpkin, so if all goes well maybe we will have our very own home-grown jack-o-lanterns this year. I love urban farming!

Speaking of urban farming there’s a truly wonderful film called Urban Roots that was playing at the DIA last week. If you missed it I think you can go to the site and purchase the DVD. Maybe it will come out on netflix; I don’t know, but it’s worth seeing! It was very inspiring to me and just makes me want to get more involved in the Detroit community with their urban farms. They touch on beekeeping in Detroit a little bit as well as people who keep goats and chickens. Here’s the site for more info if you’re interested – http://www.urbanrootsamerica.com/urbanrootsamerica.com/Home.html