1 DJ came by my farm to check on my honey bees. These bees are the Carniolan race of honey bees - a subspecies of the western honey bee and native to places including Slovenia, southern Austria, and parts of Croatia. http://bedfordbee.com
2 Before doing his inspection, DJ built a fire in the bee smoker. He added bits of paper to create the smoke. This helped to keep the bees calm.
3 The smoker has a bellows system to issue the smoke. It was discovered in ancient times that smoke calmed the bees, so beekeepers could enter the hives.
4 Smoke masks the alarm pheromones released by guard bees when the hive is opened.
5 Whenever DJ comes to inspect the hives, everyone wears protective jackets, complete with hats and veils. Here, DJ lifted the inner cover and gave the bees a generous smoking.
6 The substance around the edges of the frame is called propolis, a sticky, resinous mixture that the bees gather from tree buds, sap flows, and other botanical sources.
7 Propolis is used as a sealant to close up unwanted spaces in the hive.
8 DJ pulled frames out of the top honey super - the bees looked great. The Carniolan queen bees in all my hives were procured from Olivarez Honey Bees in Orland, California. They conduct research toward developing bees resistant to some of the problems honey bees face today. http://www.ohbees.com
9 The honey supers hold the honey for human consumption. The deeper hive boxes and frames are used for the bees to raise their broods. DJ inspected all the frames to ensure everything was functioning properly.
10 DJ used a special steel hive tool to loosen the honey frames. It acts like a mini crow bar to pry apart hive bodies and supers.
11 After checking the upper honey frames, DJ looked at the deep supers to ensure a queen was laying eggs. A hive functions with just one queen. If a second queen is made, she could swarm from the hive, taking half of the bees with her.
12 DJ showed a frame full of honey - what a healthy and productive hive!
13 The empty cells are filled with honey, which is made from flower nectar. After the bees make and fill the comb cells with honey, the cells are capped with a layer of wax for an airtight seal, which preserves the honey.
14 Filled with honey, this frame is actually very heavy.
15 The frame was full of bees, but DJ was fearless.
16 During this time of year, when bees are out collecting pollen, which is vital to the developing larvae back in the hives, they go to flowers such as goldenrod, Japanese knotweed and asters.
17 DJ pulled out another frame, and it, too, had a good amount of honey on it.
18 While he was checking the frames, DJ got stung by two bees. It didn't bother him one bit.
19 This red spot on his palm was the site of one of the bee stings. It caused a small mark, but there was hardly any swelling at all - DJ has been stung thousands and thousands of times.
20 Look at all that delicious honey - DJ said there was enough on this frame to harvest a sampling.
21 So, the frame was set aside to be brought up to my flower room where its comb honey would be extracted.
22 DJ continued to check the other hives, which also showed to be very prolific this season.
23 Carlos has been so helpful with my hives - he really enjoys taking care of them, and has become quite knowledgeable in world of honey bees.
24 DJ used his very handy tool to loosen another frame.
25 He carefully inspected every frame in the hive.
26 And in this one, DJ did catch one bee that looked a bit concerning. This bee had no real wings and was moving about very slowly, caused by a condition known as deformed wing virus carried by the varroa mite.
27 The deformed wing virus was fairly isolated, so DJ will do his best to keep it in check. All we can hope for is that the hives fare well over the winter and emerge strong in the springtime.
28 DJ and Carlos checked the third and last hive. Here, they removed the outer cover and again gave the super a thorough smoking.
30 The frame filled with honey was taken to my flower room, where it was emptied - about eight pounds of honey in this frame. DJ said the hive this came from likely held about 70-pounds of honey in all.
31 Here it was free of any bees in the flower room.
32 The honey is contained within the cells of the honeycomb, a structure of hexagonal cells of wax, made by bees to store the honey and their eggs.
33 DJ scraped the honey combs from the frame.
34 The comb can be eaten as is, or the honey can be removed from the comb before eating.
35 Look at all that delicious honey. There are many benefits of eating honeycomb. It lowers cholesterol, and contain antioxidants that are also good for protecting the liver, and also for promoting healthy glucose metabolism.
36 DJ cut up the comb honey into several smaller servings.
37 Honey contains many nutrients such as vitamin-B6, niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. It also contains minerals including copper, calcium, iron, and potassium.
38 He placed pieces of honeycomb in individual vacuumed sealed bags.
40 DJ and Carlos - standing in my dwarf apple orchard to show that if it weren't for the bees, we would not have some of our favorite foods, including these delicious deep red apples. For more information on bees, go to the American Bee Keeping Federation. http://www.abfnet.org