28 November 2013

roof building

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Agape, Joshua and I sorted through a few more hives. So far, most of the bees have been backfilling the brood-nest with the sugar syrup we've been feeding them. Hopefully by ceasing the feeding, the bees will consume the sugar and continue on expanding without being artificially triggered to swarm. The majority of the hives are much stronger in population with new combs just being drawn out. The queens are laying tight patterns and there is an abundance of pollen-packed cells. We've been noticing white and bright orange pollen on the bee baskets.

Kwao cut the wood to size for hive cover frames. After hammering the frames together, aluminum sheets recycled from the newspaper mill in Kingston (these sheets are only used once then thrown out!) were then hammered on top. We need to ensure that the back end of the roofs are tilted up so the rain can run right off. My hands were pretty colorfull when we were done!
Kofi likes to play in wheelbarrows with blue tarps
Our usual daily delivery of june plums gathered off the kitchen roof by Joshua

27 November 2013

cement hive stands

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we lined up ten cinder blocks to make five hive stands

kwao mixed the cement in a sand-dirt pit he made

pouring in some water


for good consistency 

shoveling the cement into the cinder block

using the rebar to pound the cement around the other
Kwao smoothing out the cement with his fingerscompleted hive stands that need to dry over two or so days
afterwards, kwao took emmanuel, melchizedek, joshua and i for a ride to visit the baby swarm we caught the other day. they seem to have made themselves at home with great flight-path traffic and guard bees keeping watch. 

26 November 2013

the curious incident of bees and lemongrass

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We continued throughly inspecting the hives and as Agape, Joshua and I were sorting through a langstroth, we noticed the bees were flying strangely and starting gather in the bush behind us. It reminded me of the similar ordeal with the baby swarm. They even started to cluster the smoker. By the time we finished closing the hive up and walked away, Agape became a giggling bee goddess with the ladies flocking all over the front pocket of her bee jacket. Kwao came to her rescue by pulling out the dried lemongrass that Agape had stashed for smoker fuel and smoking them out. Lemongrass seems to be as intoxicating for bees as catnip is for cats!

Afterwards, I caught some bees floating around in the kitchen and put a dab of honey on the kitchen table so we could look at the bees through a loupe that I brought along. (A loupe is used to view film negatives before exposing and developing. It's basically a 10x magnifying glass). The amount of detail in the bee is quite outstanding! 

25 November 2013

a beehive flood, lopsided candle and coconut treats

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after feeding the bees heavily, we've started fully inspecting the hives again and this particular hive was flooded out due to a faulty roof, we had to wedge a knife between the floor board and the end piece to drain out the water. the bees were doing great despite the puddle in their home.

a roll of wick

candle mold and dog nose

melting down that golden piece of wax we twice-rendered yesterday
pouring the liquid into the tightly bound candle mold with the tip of the wick wrapped around a spoon

we have a candle! 
a lovely lopsided candle
after the boys went to bed, kwao and agape shredded up some coconut and threw it in a skillet with honey  

after the honey-coconut caramelized beautifully, agape dropped the balls on a plantain leaf (a sustainable substitute for wax paper) 
words cannot explain how mouth-wateringly scrumptious this treat was

24 November 2013

rendering beeswax

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the two black plastic bags in the freezer were swollen with old and burr comb that were collected from the hives over time
the combs were thrown in a tall pot with water over the blue flame, no double boilers here! (use extreme caution) 
molten wax with the black cocoons (left behind in the cell after each baby bee is born) floating around

our preferred tool for stirring / playing with the hot wax ended up being the spatula 
to strain and filter the hot wax, all you need is a bucket with a small hole on the bottom, a big bowl (preferably with a large, steady base) and a pillowcase 
pouring the molten wax-cocoon mess into pillowcase covering the bucket
get yr plunger and get plunging!

the plunger will be covered in wax afterwards, we just scraped it off and threw it back in the bowl of liquid wax
placing the bowl on a flat surface, away from kids and dogs and covered so bees won't drown (the scent of wax attracts them from all over) 
two bees still managed to sneak under the bucket, only to be embalmed
dirty bottoms will have to be washed and scraped off
rendering a second time is a good idea if you want clean wax for a good candle. 
break up the wax into small pieces and place in a pot of water
let the water boil until the wax is melted
remove from heat and allow to cool
a twice-rendered and kofi-approved block of golden beeswax!p.s. - thanks to Agape for taking these pictures!