a good year for the bees
a recent check-in with the hives told us it was time to add new supers and top bars, and that it's looking to be a good year for our bees. it seems we could actually harvest a fair amount from that tallest hive right now, not having to wait until summer's end like we did last year. this is our fourth year keeping bees and will be our second year harvesting honey. last year we took just 9 or 10 frames and came away with about 1 3/4 gallons. there is the tiniest bit left in the bottom of a half gallon mason jar. it is pretty crystalized and my arm gets all sticky when I reach in for some. this year, we'll stick with smaller jars. a couple weeks ago I bought a little honey bear from a local beekeeper, trying to fill the gap between running out of last year's and harvesting this year's. now that my hot tea consumption has gone way down, we just may make it with that wee little bear. I'm pretty excited about the possibility of getting enough to get us through a whole year this time around. add that to the 2-3 gallons of maple syrup left in the pantry and we somehow have reached (liquid) sweetener independence~
this is our first year using a top bar hive~ a friend gifted us that beautiful top bar hive last fall and we figured if we happened to catch a swarm (having no intention of splitting our hive again this year, not yet), we'd use it. well, that big happy hive swarmed, and we caught it. voila! (a few photos from that process are here) the top bar hive is pretty interesting- the bees essentially string themselves together and form the comb in a kind of upside-down trapezoid shape, which is apparently the shape they'll naturally build it in the wild. harvesting from a top bar is where it gets tricky. we don't want to cut off all that comb, and I don't know of any extractor for it anyway. the bees put so much work into making the comb that it'd just seem heartless to crush and strain it. I think a lot of folks rig something up where there are langstroth supers on top of the top bar base- we'll probably look into something like that.
for now, they are keeping busy and filling the sky above the backyard, figuring out how to drink from the pond without drowning, and don't seem to object to my paint job.