Blog posts categorized as: Backyard Bees

Backyard Bees!

May 23, 2012

Shot a segment today with NBC 5's Omar Villafranca on backyard bees in the city! Should run this evening on the 10pm news, but if it's rescheduled I'll repost.

if you're interested in keeping bees in the DFW area, check out TBA for links to your local group, where you can take classes and attend regular meetings.

Honey extraction…first year

Jul 23, 2011

So, this morning we extracted honey from one of our backyard hives. We didn't even take the whole super's worth of frames, we left a few behind and only extracted from about 6 frames. Here are some photos of the process...

Here is me using the the bump and brush method, after a little smoking, to remove the bees from the honey super.

They are not happy about getting brushed off their honey frames...after we collected all the frames we wanted to harvest, we put them into another waiting empty super and slipped it inside a plastic bag for transport to the honey house.

Here I am at the honey house using the hot knife to remove the beeswax capping from the honey comb. You basically slice off the capping and collect it in a tray below (you'll save this wax and honey for's yummy!)

A close up of the wax capping coming off the honey comb...

Then, you use a metal comb to break open any remaining cell not opened by the hot knife...

The frames are then carefully placed inside an extractor, which is basically like a large centrifuge that spins out all the honey at high speed.

The honey drains out of the extractor into a food-grade plastic collecting bucket, filtered by two metal sieves and a straining cloth. So pretty!

Excess honey is squeezed out of the straining cloth...

And here is our beautiful honey! We didn't end up with a great quantity, but from only 6 frames we got about a gallon and a half of beautiful golden honey. It is very thick with a wonderful floral flavor. We tested the moisture content and it measured 17%. A good quality honey shouldn't have more than 18% and preferably a little less. Too much moisture in the honey means your honey can ferment later on, plus it makes it thin. With the drought this year, it's no surprise we came in at 17%. While the drought keeps us from getting as much honey, the honey we get is of higher quality. The bees will usually tell you themselves when your honey is at the right moisture content for harvesting, because they will cap it off between 17%-18%.

And don't forget that bonus honey and comb...I jarred it's like candy!

I'll be jarring up some of our "Sweet Beez Backard Honey" for family and a few friends over the next week. Looking forward to a big harvest next year!

Off to harvest backyard honey…

Jul 23, 2011

BeeI'll be harvesting honey from one of our backyard hives this morning. As mentioned in an earlier post I'll only be harvesting from one of the 4 hives I'm maintaining. The weather this spring and summer has just been brutal on new growing hives. But for the first harvest it looks like we are going to get plenty off of just this one happy hive. I'll post some photos of the process. Can't wait to taste!

Update on the Beehives…

Jul 5, 2011

It's been a tough spring/summer for growing beehives. We had a stint of unseasonably cool weather and rain in May, followed by an unseasonably HOT dry June. Thus, I have mixed rates of development among my four hives. Between the two I have in my home garden and the two I have up at the garden center, I have two hives that seem very close to right on schedule in terms of honey storage, and two that are very behind. In fact, it appears that I may only be able to harvest this year off the two more advanced hives. Generally, you should only harvest a full honey super. If your hive has only one super on it come harvest time (here it's early to mid-July) then you are best to leave that honey for your growing hive. Do to the almost complete lack of honey in the hive that is behind, and the fact that it isn't an issue with the queen at this point (the hive is queen-right) I've decided to go ahead and start feeding that hive again, something you would normall not do at this stage of honey production.


I had to re-queen two of the hives this spring. Interestingly enough, the one hive that is behind at my house, is one that had to be re-queened in the middle of spring. But the hive that is on schedule up at the garden center is one that I re-queened about a month ago. It's just goes to show how detrimental re-queening can be when it's done right in the middle of spring brood production.

That said, the two hives that are on schedule have done a bang up job and their supers are loaded with honey. It's amazing how heavy one super full of honey can be! We will most likely try to harvest next week or shortly thereafter. Can't wait!

Inspecting a beehive…

May 11, 2011

Here is a short video of me inspecting a hive up at the garden center.


The Beehives move home…

May 8, 2011

Last night we transported our beehives home from Josephine,TX, about an hour outside of Dallas. I also set up two hives at North Haven Gardens in the large vegetable production garden.

Here are a couple of shots of our home hives. They've expanded so much that they'll be getting honey supers put on them today. I'll also put their sugar feeders on. I'll post more shots later as I inspect the hives so you can see what goes on inside them. So exciting!


Halleck_bees Halleck_bees2

Inspecting my beehives…

May 4, 2011

Went out to the bee farm this past weekend to check on the status of my hives. Here are a couple of shots of me going through my brood boxes (I have 4) to look for my queens.

Here is a shot of one of the brood boxes. After about 2 months, they've managed to build comb and lay brood on about 4 frames. It shouldn't take them much longer to get to teh 8th or 9th frame, at which time I'll put on a honey super.

Here's me opening up another of the brood boxes. While the hat and netting are a must, I think I'll be losing the gloves pretty soon. They are just too cumbersome, especially when trying to pick up the heavy brood frames gently so you don't drop them.

Now I'm checking each frame to look for the queen. At this stage you want to make sure the queen is healthy and laying brood properly. Unfortunately, one of my hives was missing their queen. Something either happened to her due to weather or health, or the hive killed her. They were already raising multiple new queen cells, which is bad news. So all the new queen cells will have to be killed and a new queen introduced to the hive this week.

I will be transporting all my hives home this coming Saturday. So exciting! Two will be placed at my house and two will go up to our produce garden at North Haven Gardens.

Much more to come on the bees!

Beehive project continued…

Mar 6, 2011

Made some progress on the beehives today. Finished getting the base coats of paint on the brood boxes, which I've painted bright green. I plan to paint the honey supers alternating colors of lighter greens and orange...with some additional decorative painting of flowers and bees. Each hive will look different so that the bees know which hive is theirs...I don't think any other beekeeper will mistake these for their hives either! lol


Finished building all of the honey supers and got them coated with linseed oil. They'll have to dry for 3 or 4 days before I can paint them.


We also got 40 brood frames assembled (only 56 more honey frames to We still have to pop in the brood frame bases.


In order to get the frames put together more quickly, we built a jig...It takes forever putting these babies together one by I definitely recommend the jig.


Next weekend we'll be dropping off our brood boxes so that they can each be seeded with a Nuc (a frame that containes a queen, workers and drones). Can't wait!

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