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!