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Little Giant Beekeepers Blog

Tips for Honey Extraction

Have you noticed that beekeeping is gaining popularity as a hobby? You don’t have to live in the country or have a lot of land to raise bees, even in cities like Dallas and Fort Worth apiaries are popping up. Sure, it’s not the most accessible hobby to get started but it does bring in some excellent benefits. Beekeeping in Dallas, Fort Worth area is especially great because raw, local honey is known to help with allergies. Anyone who lives in the Dallas Fort Worth areas knows allergies are a problem, especially this time of year. Not only is local honey good for it also taste great. It tastes so much better than the store-bought stuff. And it even better knowing the bees you have been babying created it!

Besides the honey, there are other benefits to raising your own bees. Bees wax is actually quite useful around the house. You could make candles, lotion, polish furniture, and much more! You can get quite crafty with it.

End of summer is an excellent time for extraction because it is so warm, and the honey will flow better. Our first tip for honey extraction is patience. It takes time, and you need to be patient. It is not a quick job, and going too fast can get messy. Another tip is to make sure you have all the right gear before you get started. For clothing, jacket, gloves, hat, and veil is a good idea, especially if you are just getting started and do not know the personify of your bees. Better safe than sorry. Also, you will want to have all the possible tools you will need ready to go.

It is a good idea to try to do the extraction somewhere else besides your kitchen. It is a very sticky process! Nobs, floors, and table will be sticky. It best to try it somewhere more open with fewer things around. A garage might be a functional space or an outdoor shed. One unique issue is that bees will smell you working on an extraction. If you straight up just do it outside and it takes a while more bees are going to show up.

Another tip is an addition to all your other tools have a large bucket or bowl of water and some dish towels to wash off your hands when they do get sticky from the extraction. Again, it can be a messy job and best to keep water nearby for easy use.

One way to save some money on the somewhat expensive hobby is to share or borrow extractor’s, uncapping tanks and other extracting equipment. Since most hobbyists only use it once or twice a year it’s a good tool to share. In addition, you could also help each other since extracting honey is a two-person job.

Warm honey flows better than cool honey. It spins out of the comb faster and more thoroughly than cold honey in an extractor. It also strains more quickly through a filter.  Honey at 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 c) or higher will be extracted most easily.  Not a problem in Texas!

Bees are usually docile when beekeepers are extracting honey, but they will sting if you accidentally smash one.  Did you know that although its sweet, honey is highly acidic? So, you want to pick the right container to keep the extracted honey it.  Do not use aluminum and galvanized steel because that will react with the honey acids.  Stick with plastic, stainless steel or glass. Tupperware and Rubbermaid both make good plastic containers to hold honey and cappings.  Uncovered honey also catches insects, so keep the honey covered.

Enjoy your harvest and if you have a hive you didn’t ask for please contact Little Giant Beekeepers and we can help you with hive removal. Call 972-316-9135 for a free consultation.

Bee Safety Tips for Summer 

Bees are most active between spring and fall. Summer is prime time for bees’ favorite activities – including colonizing and establishing new hives. Contrary to some peoples’ beliefs, bees’ favorite activities do not include terrorizing humans. In truth, most bees are not harmful unless you disturb them. It is still important to know some basic bee safety tips.

For example, if you happen upon a swarm of bees, they are simply on the lookout for a new place to colonize and won’t want to bother you, or be bothered themselves!  Most of the time, if you wait it out, they will move on.

What do I do if I find a hive of bees in my yard?

Unexpectedly finding a hive of bees, on the other hand, can be dangerous. If the hive is uncovered when performing yard work with loud machines, say yielding a leaf blower, or on a ride-on mower, the sound and activity could upset the hive. If you find a hive on your property or in an area that many people come upon, it is best to perform a live honey bee removal, so the bees don’t get agitated from activity in the area. Honey bee hive removal is a job best left to the professionals who have the right safety protective gear and knowledge. The last thing you want to do it upset a hive of bees by spraying them madly and running. Not only will you anger the colony, but it also won’t kill the hive because most likely the queen will not be disturbed.

How do I know if the bees are Africanized honey bees?

There is also a chance that you might have come across africanized honey bees. How do you know if they are africanized honey bees (aka Killer bees)? You won’t be able to tell just by looking, there are some slight differences, but in the heat of the moment, you don’t want to stick around to determine. You must observe their personality. Africanized honey bees are more aggressive in general. They attack in more significant numbers and stay angry and aggressive for up to an hour. Africanized honey bees venom is stronger, and they can make a nest in just about anything and anywhere.

How do you stay safe around bees in the summer?

  • If you came across a hive of bees unexpectedly. Do not make a scene, move away quietly and slowly until the bees are no longer in sight.
  • If you have accidentally already disturbed the bees, run as fast as you can in a straight line and find shelter. The furthest even Africanized bees will chase you is a quarter of a mile.
  • If for some reason you can’t run, cover your face and eyes from the bees with your arms or shirt. Try to remain calm and do not flail and swat and scream. This just makes the bees madder!
  • Do not attempt to jump in the water to avoid the bees. They will be waiting for you to get a breath of air!

What do you do if you are stung by bees?

When a bee stings, it leaves it stinger. You want to remove the stinger as fast as possible. Scape it out and wash the area with soap and water. Later you can apply a cold compress to the area. If you have trouble breathing, become dizzy or even nauseous, you might be having an allergic reaction to the sting. Call 911 as soon as possible. The good news is that most of the population is not allergic to bees. On average, only a very small percent of the population is allergic to bees. But for those who are, it can be deadly. If you are out and about this summer in nature where bees might be, avoid heavy scents like found in florid soaps and body lotions. Don’t wear bright colors or florals that might look like lunch for a bee. Try not to leave sweet stuff uncovered at a picnic or leave sticky garbage out without a lid.

Bees do not want to harm you. But they also do not like being disturbed. If you do find a hive, contact Little Giant Beekeepers and we can help you decide the next steps free of charge. Call 972-316-9135 for a free consultation.

 

IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Juan Salamanca from Pexels

Important Bee Control Spring Maintenance

Got the spring cleaning bug? Time to spruce up the inside and outside of your house? While you’re at it, you might also want to plant some flowers, but don’t forget to bee proof your home.

From now to July is prime swarming time for bees in North America. What does this mean? Honey bees are collecting pollen for next winter. The hive is growing, and it becomes too big, so it splits into two different colonies. The colony that leaves the old hive behind is looking for new digs – and you don’t want that to be your house!  Now is an excellent time to bee proof your residence, so the hive that split doesn’t pick your wall or eave to make their new residence.

Bees pick North Texas houses to move into every day. Many of the calls Little Giant Beekeepers receive are from homeowners that suspect a hive has moved into their house. The unfortunate news is by the point they realize a colony has picked their home as a location, the hive is already established in an eave or wall of their house.

Bees can move into a structure through a hole that is only a quarter of an inch. So, the first step in spring bee prevention is to go around the outside of your house with a caulking gun and seal any holes in the structure. Metal screening also works well for more significant entries. You want to do this before you see any bees on your property because by then it could be too late.

If you see scout bees buzzing around your house, or bees flying inside the house, you should start sealing your holes immediately. If the swarm is already on your property, scout bees may have picked your house for their next hive. The idea is to act quickly because when they find the perfect location, bees move fast!

Another essential spring cleaning item is to remove clutter from your yard. Bees love to move into grills, lawn equipment and unused junk on your property…anything that might provide shelter for a hive. So, it is a great idea to get rid of the junk laying around, so they move on to a better location.

You might be reading this blog for information because you have previously had problems with honey bees. If you had a honey bee infestation in your house, you need to make sure all the honeycomb is removed and the area cleaned out thoroughly. Often the hive is located behind an eave or wall, and people do not go to the trouble to remove the honeycomb after the bees are removed. This is an essential step of the honeybee removal process because leftover honeycomb can attract new bees and colonies. Bees smell the pheromones from the previous bees and move back.

Little Giant Beekeepers provides a turnkey service – from removal, clean-up, and fixing any carpentry after. We make sure there are no leftover honeycombs and pheromones that come with them.

If you suspect a swarm has moved in, please call Little Giant Beekeepers to talk about the next steps to take to remove the bees. We can come safely remove the swarm for a fee and relocate them to an apiary. Call 972-316-9135 for a free consultation.

 

Photo by Alturas Homes from Pexels

The Why and How of Bee Swarms

Spring is about to spring and so are the bees. It is the time of the year for bee swarms.  We already know that bears hibernate in the winter and in a way, bees do too. While we are bundled up in snuggies, with the heater on high, bees are doing the same – staying warm inside the hive. When the weather gets cold bees retreat to the hive and live off the honey they produced in warmer months only to reemerge when it warms up in the spring.

When it starts warming up the queen bee gets to laying eggs. The hive is busy expanding. Sometimes it gets too large for only one leader. If the bees cannot smell the queen bee’s pheromones because the hive gets too big another queen bee is created. As the saying goes, “There’s only room for one queen bee.” One of the queen bees needs to leave the hive. Usually, the original queen bee takes off with about half the colony to find a new home, and this is called a bee swarm. It is nature’s way of expanding the bee population. When a hive swarms it looks like a giant dark cloud of bees flying everywhere.  It can be alarming and even terrifying for some.  Don’t Panic! Surprisingly, the bees are very docile in this “swarming” state.  They are focused strictly on getting to their new home safely and emptying their full bellies of the honey they filled up with to start their new hive.  If you happen to see bees swarming live-in-person, stay still and calm and remember never to swat at them.  The swarming process is swift and they will pass over within just a minute or two.

Clients might call and let us know they are concerned with an enormous swarm of bees resting on their car, fence or sidewalk. A bee swarm sitting in this swarm state is usually just resting on their journey to find a new home that provides more shelter from the elements. In these instances, we usually recommend leaving them alone, if possible for 24-48 hrs.  Then, if the swarm does not move on in a timely manner, Little Giant Beekeepers can come out and safely remove the swarm and relocate it to a safer area – away from people.

If you see a swarm camped out a while in a location that means they are also sending out their scouts to find a new home. All bees have specific jobs. Scout bees head out, “scouting” for the perfect new home. They leave in groups to check out new places to live. This is something our clients need to be aware of.  Hopefully, they pick a hole in a tree, far away from your house. Unfortunately, sometimes they pick your house to move the colony in to. If you see bees in small groups flying around your house, “scoping it” you need to keep watch.  They could be picking a space behind a hole in your brick or eave to move in to. No bueno! If you see a swarm in your yard or tree and see scout bees cruising around looking in your windows, you might want to give Little Giant Beekeepers a call. It is best not to let the bees move into your house in the first place. It is much harder to remove bees once they establish residency in a home’s eave or wall.

If you have a swarm, please call Little Giant Beekeepers to talk about steps to take to protect your home from a swarm moving in. We can come safely remove the swarm for a fee and relocate them to an apiary, so you don’t have to worry about them moving into your structure. Call 972-316-9135 for a free consultation.

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