The Healthy Honeybee

Learning about Beekeeping

cool bee pics


Please have a look at this website, it’s full of beautiful photography.

If you head to the “Fly” category, then to the “Bee” subcategory, the first picture there, a bee on a dandelion, took my breath away. Amazing photography at very close range.

There are 10 other bee photos, that are also very well done, but that first one was the best.



teeny tiny hive

teeny tiny hiveHere you see the hands of Ken, adjusting the frames of his little model beehive. The wee box is resting on the much larger, normal-sized beehive. Ken is going to leave the small box on the larger box – there’s an opening in the bottom so the bees can come up into it – so the bees will draw out the honeycomb a bit. He doesn’t want them to store honey in the little demo hive, but he does want them to show what they can do in building up the wax in preparation for honey storage. He brings this hive to places where he talks about bees, so people can see in miniature what the hives are like.

I think it’s a great idea. Not everyone wants to come and stand in a swirl of angry bees to watch you work, so why not bring a little model to show them what the hives are like? Much better than carting around a full-size model!

Obviously this picture was not taken recently – much too much green for that – I’m going through my pictures and posting the ones that I wanted to show you in the summer but didn’t have time for.


something delicious

cinnamon honey butterTake some runny honey and softened butter in roughly equal amounts and blend together with cinnamon. That’s it. If you love cinnamon, add lots. If you like it in moderation, just put in a pinch or leave it out altogether.

One word of caution – don’t blend it too long or the butter will separate and give it a really weird texture.

If you take this and mix it one part honey butter to two parts peanut butter, you will have what tastes like the inside of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Oh baby. I foresee some xmas goodies in my immediate future.

I’m sure it can’t bee too hard to melt down some chocolate chips and create something super tasty! The wonderful thing about eating this, is that it tastes amazing plus you’re not filling your body with the junk that they put in processed food.




opening ob hiveA few weeks ago, I noticed that the bees in my observation hive had all died. This is not surprising, due to the fact that there are not that many of them and they are not able to huddle in a large enough mass to actually survive the winter.

That’s what my regular sized bee colonies are doing right now – huddling together in the middle of the hive to stay warm; and, most importantly, keep the queen warm. She’s the one who will kick off the growth of the colony in the spring with her egg-laying, so it is vitally important to the colony to keep her alive.

But back to the ob hive. I wanted to clean it all out so it’s ready to go in the spring, so I opened it up today.

scraping ob hiveThere was a lot of propolis and some dead bees to scrape off the glass and wood. Unfortunately with this style of hive it’s pretty much unavoidable to squish a few bees when installing them in the hive. See in the top photo how the glass opens out? Well, when you dump some frames and a bunch of bees in, they don’t want to stay in the middle for you while you lower the glass. They want to get up and out of there because they are not interested in doing anything you want them to do. So, there are some casualties.

This ob hive served me well; I brought them to the Annual Seedling Sale at Little City Farm, and I ran a few honeybee workshops at my home for families who wanted to learn more about them.

I’m already looking forward to the next season of honeybee education. I love watching kids watch the bees, especially if it’s the first time they’ve been so close to a pile of honeybees.

night night


tar paper

The time had come. Colder weather, shorter days… winter is coming and the honeybees needed more substantial protection than what their hive alone could provide. Enter tar paper (above), saved from last year. You can tell by the grooves and the tiny hole that it had already been used for this purpose. That made putting it on the hives a bit easier than last year, when I was fighting with a large roll of the stuff while trying not to get stung. This time I just followed the grooves and lined up the holes with the upper exits of the hives. Easy peasy.

Here’s one papered and the other waiting:

half done

A few days after I papered them, I brought some straw bales to the farm and made a little windbreak around the level of the entrance.

all tucked in

And they’re done! I even remembered to put the entrance reducers in properly, unlike last year. Here’s what they shouldn’t look like.

Night night sweet honeybees, please make it through another winter ok.


gone in a day



I sold a container of honeycomb to a friend a few weeks ago, and today she told me “It was gone in a day”. What a compliment! Comments like these make me want to expand my operation by about 4x.  It’s a big decision, though, because it takes time and energy. And I’m still learning.

Some days I want to give up the idea of selling honey and keep it all for myself – yes, I’m greedy that way – and some days I want to get a few more hives so I have more to sell to all the people who want to buy more when they finish the first container they bought. Because I’m all sold out. Already. I was almost sold out before I even harvested my second batch this season.

It’s hard to make a living beekeeping. Selling honey, for me, is a way to offset some of the costs of a very expensive hobby. If I wanted to make a living I’d probably need a thousand hives and some hired help.

It goes well with my business, though. I’m posting at Sarah’s Kitchen Gardens almost daily, which is why my posts here have been sporadic. I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to define what I do and to finalize the details of my product line and figure out how to put PayPal on the website, to name a few things that keep me busy these days.

I can’t give up the bees, though. They are amazing.


workshop review


bees in the observation hive

I was pleasantly surprised to discover recently that one of the people who attended my intro to honeybees and beekeeping workshops wrote a little review on her blog! Thanks Bianca!

Inspired Wonder‘s honeybee workshop review.

These workshops were geared toward families, so they were not highly technical nor were they designed to tell you everything you need to know to be a beekeeper. I’m more about raising awareness of honeybees and hoping to share the love.

I also want people to know the difference between a bee and a wasp. When someone tells me they were harassed or stung by a bee I always ask, ‘was it a bee or a wasp?’ Most times, in this city anyway, it was actually a wasp. People see yellow and black flying things and they immediately think “bee!!”

Do you know what percentage of bees (not including wasps and hornets, because, well, they’re not bees) make honey? First correct answer wins the 1″ pin pictured below.

honey pin


extracting honey


.frames in extractor

I had one honey super with frames that had honeycomb acceptable to use in the extractor. So here they are, in the extractor ready to be spun. First I had to pick off the wax caps covering the cells of honey. There’s a special tool for that. Next, the frames are placed in the extractor in such a way that the extractor is balanced. If this is not done right you could end up with a hole in the wall of your honey house. Due to massive extractor banging around because it’s imbalanced. Fortunately I had some help – Steven was there to show me how to use the beast. And hold it steady, because it did kinda rock a bit if no one was holding it. Thanks Steven!
After awhile we poured off some gorgeous honey:
honey coming out of the extractor
You can see there are still bits of wax that came off the frames too. They’re being coarse-filtered as the honey goes into the pail.
Kind of a simple process, if you know what you’re doing, after all my bashing and filtering of the curvy comb. Quite the difference.

out of place


curvy comb

Yesterday I showed some photos of honeycomb that was built perpendicular to the wooden frames. Today, I’m showing you the other half of the honey super – not quite so perpendicular, but still curvy enough that the frames can’t be put into a honey extractor. If you look closely on the left-hand side you can see the wires of the frame. These are supposed to be buried deep in the wax of the honeycomb, and provide support when the frames are spun in the extractor. Not working so well here. Hence the big mashing and straining ordeal.

It’s been a sticky couple of days so far – I wash my hands after handling frames and honeycomb, then come sit at my desk with my forearms resting on it, and discover that I’m still sticky on my forearms. I go wash my forearms and get back to work on the computer. Later, after handling honey again, I wash up to my elbows. This time, I go sit on the couch and discover that the backs of my upper arms are still sticky. Upper arms!!??

Hopefully next year will see bees that build straight comb…. with a bit more ‘encouragement’ from me.


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