Fruit Press Is Here!

Today was a very big bee day. My ‘extractor’ came in! And, fantastic surprise this, it’s from Italy! I feel very fancy; I import my tea pots from the UK and my fruit presses specifically for wine making from Italy. I had no idea it was made it Italy when I bought. Here’s a picture while it’s still clean and pristine.

Basically, I plan on using this fruit press to press the honey comb. I’m hoping it’s much more effective than a turkey pan and a fork!

Today was also the beekeepers meeting. It was very interesting. The author of was our guest speaker, and he talked for two hours. One thing I took away was the use of ‘drone frames’. He runs an operation with over 1000 hive with his two sons and a few other helpers, and he said that they have a drone frame in every single hive as part of their varroa control. And because this frame is present, the bees are much less inclined to draw drone comb elsewhere in the hive, making splits and things easier to sell, as people aren’t as happy receiving drone comb in their nucs. The other important thing was that ‘a good beekeeper should double the number of hives in his apiary every year’. His operation is so big, and commercialized, that this was more incorporated into a marketing perspective than a hobbiest (that is a word right) would like I think. That said, it is easy to double (and triple) colonies and then combine them at the end of the year. It also allows you the opportunity to sort of ‘roll the genetic dice’ if you will, because for every new colony you make you have the chance to produce a wonderful queen.

He talked about feeding both sugar syrup and protein patties more than I would’ve liked, as I’m not a fan of these so much, and a lot of what he talked about related to a specific regiment of feeding of his. He also talked about working hives in the snow, and had multiple pictures of him doing so. This was far beyond my years/experience level, and I feel confident is saying it was also beyond that of much of my fellow association members, so I felt like this was a bit of a daunting subject that my cause a bit of trouble. And the reason for these visits was due to an overlarge population caused by feeding earlier in the year. So… yeah.

He talked a lot about various treatments for varroa, and most of it had to do with good breeding, which I liked. Apparently there are a couple strains of bees that are almost entirely resistant to varroa. One was a Russian strain and the other was some acronym I can’t remember. VHS I feel like it was, lol. These were both around several years ago when I first took up beekeeping, but their credibility wasn’t so great yet. I’m inclined to try the acronym one though, because they’re supposed to be very docile unlike the Russians.

Other than that there wasn’t much of note. He had several very fancy graphs that depicted bee and mite populations throughout the year and their relationship. Oh! He did explain the reason for the apparent “explosion” in the mite population at the end of the year. The mite population actually stays relatively the same all year, but the bee population doesn’t. Because the bee population is reduced so much in the fall, the apparent mite population explodes. Get it? The number of mites per bees increases because the number of bees in the hive has decreased. It really has nothing to do with an increase in the mite population at all. That said, treating in fall is still important because the mite to bee ratio is so high.

I recommend checking out his website, simply because he referenced it so often during his lecture. He tried to cover almost the entire scope of beekeeping in two hours, so he skimmed over a lot of the little things and told us to check out his website if we were interested in anything in particular.

I’ll harvest some time in the next week and post pictures for you all to see how it goes!


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18 responses to “Fruit Press Is Here!”

  1. Emily Heath says :

    I really admire the website, it’s a great source of info on treating for diseases and pests. How does he do the drone frame in his hives, does he put in a brood frame filled with drone foundation? Or leave the bees to build their own comb?

    • willowbatel says :

      He uses a frame without foundation and lets the bees draw it out on their own. The picture he showed us appeared to be a frame that is also used for queen rearing, i.e a frame with a bar that runs horizontally through the center. My drone frame is a frame with wires through it. The whole frame is drone brood. And he said that even if you don’t uncap the frame in time and all of the varroa get out, it does virtually nothing to the population, which confused me. You also don’t actually need to uncap the entire frame. You just check a small pocket of the frame and if no mites exist then you don’t have to worry and can put the frame back. He does all of his own breeding, so he likes to have drones in all of his hives.

      • Emily Heath says :

        “And he said that even if you don’t uncap the frame in time and all of the varroa get out, it does virtually nothing to the population, which confused me.”

        That really confuses me too, the government bee inspectors have always told us not to do that. I think I’d rather not let all the varroa out! Thanks for the explanation of the drone frame.

        By the way your blog is looking great, I’m not sure if you changed the background recently but I just noticed all the flying bees, lovely!

        • willowbatel says :

          I think it had more to do with the varroa population in relation to the bees population. Allowing that frame of varroa emerge would only increase their numbers slightly, and if you were treating for varroa then it wouldn’t really matter if you let those emerge or not. I dunno. I’ll uncap a few drone cells on the frame and if no mites are present then the drones can live. It may reduce my honey crop slightly, but I have no problem letting those genes out into the world if they survive another winter.

          • Emily Heath says :

            Hmm, but at the time of year drones are being created there’s not really any varroa treatment you can give without tainting the honey crop (apart from icing sugar, which doesn’t do much). I’m a fan of drones too though, they’re important for genetic diversity.

            • willowbatel says :

              He actually showed us a graph which depicted bee and varroa populations comparatively, along with various treatments and the time of year. He used three different treatments (one included a full drenching of the inside of the hive with some sort of chemical) from spring to fall. It was rather bizarre…

              • Emily Heath says :

                That must be a chemical I’m unfamiliar with, we don’t treat between spring to fall here.

              • willowbatel says :

                I don’t know what the ‘washing’ treatment was, but he mentioned several new products, one of which is a strip of… oh, whats that called… the pheromone that ants produce. Because bees have evolved with ants it doesn’t effect them at all, but the mites can’t handle it and they die. It even seeps into the cells with the larvae and kills the male mites.

  2. Emily Heath says :

    Maybe formic acid is the ‘ant pheromone’ you’re thinking of, I’ve heard of that being given for varroa before. You have to be careful when handling it as it’s pretty corrosive stuff.

  3. Garden Walk Garden Talk says :

    I am learning so much visiting the UK bee keeper blogs. I am glad you popped in on GWGT so I could jump over here. I can never be a bee keeper because I may be allergic, but I do love knowing about them.

    • willowbatel says :

      I love all of the UK beekeeping blogs. They’re extremely informative (and they have a much larger resource base than I do). I’m in Washington state though.
      I’m deathly allergic to bees, lol. Have to carry an epipen around at all times! If you ever get stung you should try using chewed up plantain (the common weed, not the ‘banana’). It stops the pain of a bee sting immediately and reduces swelling greatly. I’ve used it the last 3 or 4 times I was stung and didn’t need my epipen or a trip to the hospital! I wrote a post about it… let me find you the link…

  4. tina campbell says :

    Where did you purchase this press looking to buy one. Thxh

    • willowbatel says :

      I can’t remember; I bought it two years ago. I just did a bit of searching around to find one that I liked. This one was around $150 if I remember correctly. It’s really nice and a great conversation piece! People are always surprised when I say I use it to extract honey.

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