Monday, August 19, 2013

Major Breakthroughs - Bean and Bee Experiments

I had two major breakthroughs today. The first one came as I was doing my bee rounds between mid to late morning. St. John's colony which was the one that almost completely died out this Winter is coming back with a vengeance but it still has the old type of bottom board under it that I think caused some of my losses last Winter. I needed to switch it out with one I have already modified for Winter. What I did was add an extra supporting board and a half inch plywood insert that will fit in snugly with the plastic insert and should eliminate any cold air getting inside but still allow me to "open it up" in Summer if their mite count gets too high.

The advantage of a screened bottom board is that rather than treating the bees (and the honey) with stuff that kills mites I can open the bottom board up when it is warm and sprinkle powdered sugar on the bees. As they clean the sugar off each other they pull off the mites and the mites then fall through the screen never to be seen again.

It actually works but the downside is the screened bottom boards allowed too much cold air in during Winter and makes the bees consume more honey to stay warm and survive. By modifying the bottom boards I have already purchased I can in effect give the bees a solid board for Winter with an extra bit of plastic sheeting insulation on top. Last year I tried just sliding in boards under the hives but they sagged down in front without that extra support and did not have the added riser I put in the back which also allowed air to get in.

Since that time I have begun making my own screened bottom boards so in the future this won't be an issue but I wasn't going to just throw out the 12 bottoms I already had. I am going to use them until they fall apart but I will be phasing them out for my own sturdier and better insulated models as I go.

Anyway as I was taking the hive apart and putting it back together I glanced up at the one remaining swarm trap I hadn't collected yet. It was mounted on one of the platforms I designed earlier that would fit over a metal fencepost making it easier to block ants getting into the trap and eliminate the need to lop off a tree branch to mount my other traps. I kept saying I would take it down but didn't and guess what? Yep it had a swarm in it. I am sure this swarm is not going to have time to build up for Winter but at least it proved my fencepost and mount design are effective.

While all this was going on along with a little dabbled fawn scaring the total beejeebus outta me when I almost stepped on her, I was finally attempting to find the magical soak and simmer time for my three year old dried beans.

I soaked the little devils in hot water for about two hours and then began simmering them and after six hours of simmering they actually came out pretty good. I was honestly afraid after growing them, shucking them, drying them out and then leaving them in a container for three years it might take 12 hours or more of simmering to get em edible which is why I started the whole process this morning. Since they were actually tender and edible by this evening I stopped simmering them and am saving them to make the "totally Small-Hold Chili" tomorrow.

I will let ya know how that turns out :)

So there you have it. Two major breakthroughs in one day. I feel Blessed.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!



  1. Looks like things are looking up with the bees. if you remember the bee hives I posted about. Well I drove by the yesterday and I noticed the Keeper had cut the hives down to two layers from the 4 to 6 as shown in the photos I took. Why would they remove so much?? Honey production??

    1. Yep he or she is taking off the top honey supers. I don't remove supers until about the end of September myself usually as I tend to just pull frames through the Summer.

  2. Maybe you could merge the swarm with another weak hive using the paper divider. Like I know what I am talking about, I have just been reading about it but I have heard of such things.

    1. SF - Oh I could do that if I went in and found the queen and killed her. Usually small swarms are nto worth the trouble as it would only add a couple thousand bees to the 60+ thousand colonies. What I like to do with small late season swarms these days is give em a chance. If they beat the odds then they are usually a booming hive the next year.


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