March CABA meeting

Jimmy gave an excellent presentation on how to install packages in a new hive.
David gave a very thorough presentation on how to make splits to increase your colony count. The important takeaways here are:

  • It takes 2 days to start raising a queen then 16 days to hatch, 3-4 days to mate, 3-4 days to mature.
  • The old queen always leaves with swarm.
  • If a hive does swarm it is best to re queen, since there is no way to determine that the queen the colony raises will be of good quality.
  • You should have at least 7 frames of good pattern brood before a split.

David went into depth with pictures on a number of different techniques for splitting colonies.  He discussed Out Yard, In Yard, & Adee splits, which I have heard of.  He also discussed Harbo, Katrina, & Ferguson splits.

The Katrina split was developed as a result of the hurricane losses and involves making a split every 14 days.  With this method they were averaging 4 new hives from one original hive.
Ferguson splits are done on top of each other to increase output of drawn comb and two queen hives to increase honey production.


Apiary redesign

I have been planning to move the beehives around in the garden to keep the flight path of the bees from being directly through the garden. The plan was to point the entrances towards the back fence instead of at the garden. I also spoke to a friend that had to get rid of his hive due to an uncooperative HOA and neighbors. I helped him build the hive at the beginning of this year so I offered to fit it in so he could still have them and come work them when he wants to. We laid down landscape fabric and a heavy tarp to keep the weeds back and I plan to eventually fill the area with rocks so I won’t have to mow or weed under the hives. Now I have a dedicated 12×10 apiary with lots of room to work the hives and the bees shouldn’t fly directly through the garden.

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Paint for the babies room

After 5 different paint samples from Lowe’s we finally settled on a color that compliments the new furniture and the soon to be made curtains.
The lighting makes the whole scene yellow, but you can see the contrast of the old color for the right.

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December CABA meeting

I skipped the meeting this month. It was just a showing of the Vanishing of the Bees documentary, which I have already seen. Plus we had a lot going on at work and home this week.


Food truck roundup at Tin Roof brewery

Went to the food truck roundup at Tin Roof brewery this evening. I was finally able to try the Parade Ground Porter. Overall I was disappointed with the porter. That seems to be my feeling about all the Tin Roof beers I have tried. They certainly aren’t bad, it’s just that there are better representations of the style out there. Definitely drinkable, but not my first choice. It was fun walking around the brewery now that we have started brewing though. That alone was worth the trip.

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November CABA meeting

The November CABA meeting included a honey contest and demonstration on multiple aspects of beekeeping. Dr. Bob Danka spoke about how the honey is judged. The primary factor is moisture content. There were 4 entries disqualified because they were above the maximum moisture content of 18.6%. The quality of the container is also very important, since points are deducted for imperfections in the queenline jars. Beyond that, bubbles, lint, & other impurities in the honey all detract points. Dr. Danka said they do not judge the honey flavor against the other entries, but they judge based on the presence of off flavors created by excess smoke or too much heat processing.

Several CABA members had setups explaining various aspects of beekeeping. Jack demonstrated a frame jig used to put together 10 frames at once. Orie, the club apiarist, demonstrated hive body building. David showed everyone tips on taking hive notes and spoke about the advantages of solid bottom boards. Another member gave tips on wiring frames. There were also interesting custom made gadgets for various tasks.

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Honey harvest

I pulled a comb of honey from hive #2 yesterday and got 3.5 lbs of honey. We crushed strained and bottled for sharing at work.

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Winter garden

We went to Naylor’s today and bought everything for our winter garden. Lots of weeding in the old cucumber bed. That will teach me to leave the bed with no plants and uncovered. We ran out of daylight today so we’ll get the lettuce, cilantro, & parsley planted tomorrow.

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October CABA meeting

Chris Frink got alergist Dr. Nordy Redhead to speak about bee stings. He explained that localized swelling is not a true allergy from allergist perspective. An allergic reaction is classified by life threatening symptoms within minutes. In cases of a bee sting allergy the body creates antibodies that it should not create. The next time a person is stung these antibodies are in place and can cause a massive systemic reaction. Respiratory symptoms and swelling of any body part is possible including the tongue or throat. He also explained that honey bee venom is in a separate class and does not cross react with hornets wasps etc. So, if you are allergic to one you are not necessarily allergic to another. There are bee sting allergy tests that test for the antibody presence. If you are allergic desensitization is an option as well. This consists of a series of dilute venom injections up to the equivalent of two bee stings. Once you reach the target dose the desensitization continues with a dose every 6 weeks for 5 years. This course has ~80% efficacy of reducing a life threatening reaction. This same desensitization is even more effective for other stinging accidents. When the question was asked about honey being good for people with allergies Dr. Nordy said he has not seen any conclusive studies either way. On the contrary he recounted two events of people eating raw honey and having an allergic reaction. Dr. Nordy recommended Benadryl or NSAID to counteract minor reactions. For those with an allergy an Epi-pen can be prescribed.
All of this became immediately relevant when I went out to check the beehives Wednesday evening. As I crouched down next to hive #1 the whole colony fluttered and one bee instantly attacked my left forearm. A few minutes later I checked the hive with no consequence. Within 10 minutes I had taken a Benadryl, so the reaction was limited to minor swelling and itching.


Nut Brown Ale

We brewed up a batch of Nut Brown Ale from Austin Homebrew. Looking good so far. We also opened up our chocolate stout yesterday and it was a hit. I was shocked at how good it was. Not great, but I wouldn’t turn it down. After this is a winter IPA.

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