August 15, 2012 Mites

I made an interesting discovery on Monday. When your lips and cheeks are swollen from a day old bee sting, it is possible to play a clarinet, but expect the other band members to give you some mighty queer looks when you stand in front of the band to tune everyone.  A happy side effect of playing clarinet after such a bee sting is the work the facial muscles have to do really speeds the metabolism of the toxin.  So if you do get stung, exercise!

Today, I made up some pollen patties and some more sugar water and went back out (zippers and Velcro carefully closed and double checked this time) to top off all the hives because I know I won’t be able to get back out there for the next week.  But mostly today, I wanted to pull the mite boards to see what there was to see.  And what I saw was mites.  Varroa mites and a lot of them.

However, there is this interesting tidbit.  The yellow hive has about half as many as my other two established hives. The swarm hive has none.  Varroa mites are essentially bee ticks and they prefer to feed off drone larvae.  I put the swarm on drawn honey comb, not brood comb (which means there shouldn’t have been any varroa infestation of the comb) AND they were totally eggless for a couple of weeks.  The yellow hive went through a relative eggless period recently as well.  Either a) the yellow queen was very smart and quit laying “knowing” this would reduce the parasite load, (b) the heat and lack of forage caused the yellow queen to stop laying, (c) the queen got superceded and I missed the whole process, or (d) during one of my inspections I smooshed her and the hive requeened itself. (Either c or d would explain the absolute boom in egg laying in the yellow hive right now.)

In trying to figure out what, if anything, I should do about my infestation, I learned that the supplement I put in the sugar water is supposed to repel varroa mites.  It’s call Honey B Healthy and it contains essential thyme oil (or thymol) which is the chief ingredient in several miticides.  Sometimes I put it in the sugar water, sometimes not.  Obviously, it doesn’t do squat for the mite issue.

I have several options to deal with the mites, but for the moment, I think I will do nothing.  Drones and drone comb are nearly gone from the two hives with the heaviest infestation.  Maybe the bees will take care of it for me.  I’ll put the mite boards back on next week and check again.

Not big enough to take things like the queen excluders, but this little baby will handle all my cappings and hive scrapings, provided we get some sunshine.

Last night, my son and I made a solar wax melter out of an Omaha Steak shipping cooler and a pane of glass that used to be a shelf in my daughter’s dorm fridge (the shelf broke and was replaced under warranty)  I piled in my stash of washed cappings wax with high hopes of having a bowl full of clean wax, but wouldn’t you know.  Today, it was overcast nearly all day.  The honey got soft, very soft, but never actually melted.  And we never actually got any rain either.

Onions, 4 different kinds of peppers both sweet and hot, some homegrown garlic and 10 cups of blanched and peeled tomatoes. Add whatever herbs you can find and hopefully you can find lots of basil.

I’ve been trying to save some of the stuff that we’ve been finding in the garden.  More dill pickles and some awesome marina sauce.  By the time we got done eating spaghetti, there wasn’t enough sauce left to justify canning it.  It was that good.  And incidentally, if you want to try the best butter beans on the planet, here’s what you do:

Get some fresh shelled butter beans.  Put them in a pot with 3 or 4 cups of homemade chicken stock made from the bones of pastured chickens.  Add a couple shakes of Siracha and Worcestershire Sauce and some salt and pepper.  Nearly burn them, twice, but add water just before the last of the stock boils off.  (I don’t know what it is about beans and a near death experience, but they are always the better for it.)   Simmer until done and then oo la la.  No leftovers, baby!


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