B-Haven Season Kickoff Party

I have spent the last two weekends performing Spring cleaning duties in the B-Haven Apiary. Last year the apiary consisted of 5 hives. So how did these hives do over the Winter?

Three hives survived.

Hive number 1 barely survived. The queen was still alive, but there was a very small amount of worker bees and very little capped brood.

Hive number 2 looked pretty good. A lot of bees in the hive and plenty of capped brood.

Hive number 3 was off the charts. This hive was exploding. It was stuffed full of bees and would probably swarm in the near future.

B-Haven’s 2013 Season

So what do I want the apiary to look like this year? I decided to go with 5 hives and a nucleus, just like last year. In addition, Evelyn has a friend in Sunnyvale that wanted a hive in her yard. So I decided to give it a try. So now B-Haven Apiary consists of a main apiary and a satellite apiary. Both in the same town of Sunnyvale.

So I purchased three bee packages to create the new hives. In the past, I have been purchasing my bees from Honey Bee Genetics in Vacaville. I had already ordered 4 queen bees from them in January. And I picked them up on Saturday (April 13). So I called them to order the three bee packages but they were unfortunately completely out of stock.

So I was forced to look for a new source. And I chose Bee Keeper Mike in Portola Valley (right off of highway 280). When I installed the bee packages, I discovered that one of the queens was dead (the other two queens were fine). That bee package was installed at the satellite apiary on Saturday (April 6). Mike did replace the queen on Thursday (April 11) and I installed the live queen on that same day. The bees were just hanging out, they had not drawn any comb which was to be expected since there was no queen. So I examined the hive on Sunday, and she was still in her cage. So I let her out and she went right to work. I will check back this weekend to make sure that she is not a slacker.

I think that I prefer doing business with Mike since he is local. It is a bit of a pain to travel to Vacaville to pick up bees. It is a 5-hour round trip. Honey Bee Genetics does ship bees, but I do not think that much of that idea.

Staying Natural

I do not like to feed sugar water to my bees. I like to stay natural. So I save some honey comb from the previous season. Each new hive gets two frames of honey comb. Each bee package comes with a queen in a cage, with a cork in the entrance. I replace the cork with a marshmallowThe bees will eat through the marshmallow to release the queen. I checked each queen cage on Monday; the marshmallows  were gone and the queens were in their hives. I will check on them once a week to make sure that bees are drawing comb and the queens are laying eggs.

Now on to the three surviving hives. Each hive over wintered with two supers of honey and pollen. By April, a healthy hive has used up the bottom super and has moved into the
upper super. The honey comb is black from repeated usage and possibly full of pesticides and other pollutants. I thus like remove the bottom super from each hive. I then move the top super to the bottom and add an empty super on top. I harvest the wax and honey from the bottom supers.

Hive number 2 looked pretty good. A lot of bees were in the hive and plenty of capped brood. So I just added a new queen and left it alone.

Hive number 1 barely survived. The queen was still alive, but there was a very small amount of worker bees and very little capped brood. So I added some capped brood from hive number 3 and a new queen.

I also populated the nucleus with capped brood from hive number 3 and a new queen. I finished up by adding a new queen to hive number 3, just to make sure. So hive 3 really rocked. I essentially did three splits off of it.

Season Kickoff Celebration

So I spent the last two weekends cleaning up the apiary, getting it ready for the new season. Such work demands a celebration. So we decided to have a B-Haven Season Kickoff Party. We invited Alyson and Douglas Harrold to join us. We started off the feast with some cheeses:

1) Organic Mt. Tam Triple Creme by Cowgirl Creamery

A cow’s milk cheese from the Straus Family Dairy in Tomales Bay (Marin Country, CA).

2) Saint Agur Anco Blue by Bongrain

A pasteurized cow’s milk from the village of Beauzac in the Monts du Velay,
part of the mountainous Auvergne region of central France.

3) Carmody by Bellwether Farms

A Jersey cow’s milk cheese from Sonoma County.

4) Bijou by the Vermont Creamery

An aged goat cheese crotin.

5) Four Star Cheddar by Grafton

Made from raw Whole Vermont Cow Milk.
This cheese is aged 4 years.

The Menu

1) Beer Can Chicken

You insert a half full beer can into a chicken. This allows you to prop the chicken up on the grill. I use indirect heat in this case.I did three chickens with three different marinades:
{beer, onions, garlic}, {beer, garlic, rosemary}, and {chilli powder}. The result is a very favorable and moist chicken.

2) Grilled Sweet Potatoes

On the grill in aluminium foil with olive oil and man powder. Doug came up with this one. Nice.

3) Grilled Veggies

Sweet peppers, poblano peppers, broccoli and brussel sprouts. Another Doug choice. Again, very nice.

4) Grilled Tomatoes

Cut in half and topped with salt, pepper, and cheddar cheese. A surprising and very nice dish by Doug.

5) Garden Salad.

Alyson used a home made dressing with our honey. It was simple perfection with red leaf lettuce, avocado and sweet strawberries.

6) Corn Bread

Evelyn adds whole corn kernels, jalapenos, and man powder.

The Wine List

1) Iron Horse 2008 Wedding Cuvee

There is a hint of blush to this wine.

2) Iron Horse 2010 Thomas Road Pinot Noir

Middle of the road.

3) Iron Horse 2011 Estate Pinot Noir

A full blown Burgundian style.

4) Iron Horse 2010 Sonoma Pinot Noir

A classic California style with cherry.

This was a proper feast to celebrate the new season at B-Haven Apiary.