Not many blog entries this year, but attempted “tweeting” as a way of recording my hive activities and passing along other tidbits of info on beekeeping. (See tweet feed on right side of this screen). Feel free to follow me if you are on twitter, @seattlebeeworks.
The Puget Sound Beekeeping Association is going strong and I’ve been elected to Vice President, so am looking forward to supporting the non-profit’s efforts in educating the community and other fun beekeeping/honey events and mentoring of new beekeepers.

This year was a bad year for honey harvests, for most beekeepers. My mentor, with 8 hives, declared no honey harvest due to drought and weak hives. I was lucky to claim ~60 lbs from 4 hives, mostly medium to dark honey. (to compare: three yrs ago I had 100lbs from 1 hive!)
I’m currently in the process of bottling and supplying holiday orders, as well as preparing my usual supplies to Husky Deli in West Seattle. (Their holiday tasting event is Dec 4th 5-9pm)

Learnings this year:

  • I suffered only one queen death this year, even before she was released in the hive- thus, I claim no fault, but learned I could get a queen “on warranty”- who wouldda thunk?
  • One of my hives was pretty arnory-stinging me thru my gloves and very active/aggressive guard bees. I didn’t do much to support this hive during this season, figuring they had it under control if they didn’t want me visiting- so bee it. 🙂 (this obviously was the “lazy beekeeper” approach.) Next year, to remedy, I will likely requeen in the spring- that is, if the hives make it through the winter.
  • I also learned that it isn’t good to have a mixture of equipment sizes- especially when your hives aren’t in the same locale. I prepared alot of shallow hive bodies, for honey supers this year… but found it frustrating to end up not having a western size when I needed, or the wrong equipment in the wrong locale, or mismatched frame sizes prepared. I may sell those shallows for westerns, to make it easier on myself.
  • Honey Labels- design matters. I took a letterpress course this year to both foster a curiosity I had about this lost art, and to establish a new honey label design. My letterpress label turned out really cool, but more asian looking than I’d expected/intended. I learned west seattle buyers don’t go for honey that appears is from Asia- my sales reduced as a result. (Read about china tainted honey imports to figure out why). Back to the drawing board on my labels- a good winter project.

I still love beekeeping, but I do think I am at my limit of hive count,given the lack of my own beeyard. I seem to get many offers from folks for hosting more hives in their yards…which surprises me, but am glad to see the support for bees.

If you are looking for a neat gift this year, don’t forget you can always give bees!