Sunday, May 22, 2011

Crazy Comb

When I checked our new hive yesterday, I found that they had been hard at work building some Dr. Seuss-style architecture on the top of their frames.  (We have a top-feeder in the honey super right now, so there is room for them to construct a fantastic wax sculpture.)
I tried to find information online about what to do about this, if anything, but I only found a couple of references to "crazy comb" that did not include more information.  So, I once again harassed my friend Damian, who advised me to remove it.  Today Mike and I both suited up and I fired up the smoker (which goes out every time, so we use liquid smoke for back-up) and we carefully peeled the structure off.  This hive has been much more productive than our first one, and they already have comb built out to most of the outer frames.  We were excited to find that the part we scraped off has some honey in it, so we had our first tiny taste of honey produced by our own hives.

Next, we checked the established hive that we started last spring.  We have had a honey super on it for a year, but they aren't building comb in that at all.  Still, they have the hive body completely full of honey, and they appear to be healthy.  Hopefully, now that spring has sprung, they will spend the summer building on those frames and filling them with delicious honey.

A friend has been teaching me to make soap, and I plan to spend this year making more of it, plus lotions, balms, and candles, using our wax, herbs, and beneficial plants.  I'm actually considering reducing my mosaic production and turning part of the studio into space for making and storing products from our homestead.  We hope to invest in two more hive bodies by the end of summer so that we can either capture a swarm or purchase more bees next year.

Anouk had a friend sleep over last night, so I showed the girls the wax we took from the hive.  They were both fascinated, and happy to taste some honey straight from the source.  Keeping bees has been a rewarding challenge so far, and it ties together all that we are doing here on our little homestead.

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