Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Zeekeeper Honeyworks + Awesome Logo + Updates!

   Check it out! How freaking cool is that?! This is the first version of my company logo, designed and illustrated by my good friend Angela An. She does some really incredible things, and has a really sweet illustration style like Samurai Jack! I've been incredibly touched by her offering her time and artwork to help me get Zeekeeper Honeyworks off the ground and looking sweet! We've talked about doing some really cool things with honey labels, one example being a season-based illustration for the label, depending upon which season the honey has been collected or bottled in. Just that idea right there has so many ways of being turned into something awesome, and I'm extremely excited about it!

   Angela's blog is super cool (with a great Game of Thrones illustration among other things!) and you should go check it out before continuing with this blog entry!  She does commissions on top of prints of her work, so you should probly think about those too ;) Oh, and it also has the newest version of the logo, which I'm planning on sharing in the next blog post, but feel free to cheat and check it out!

  I also didn't think Z's Bees was an apt enough description for what I want to accomplish in beekeeping, both commercially and educationally. On top of that, there's a Z's Bees out of California so it'd be too confusing. If anyone is familiar with Sam Comfort of Anarchy Apiaries, reading about his philosophy was the catalyst that sparked my interest in the craft. I could write an entire post about my thoughts on commercial methods of beekeeping and farming, so that will be another entry. However, I'll sum it up by saying that the modern generation has a stunning disconnect with where our food comes from, where our species comes from (spoiler alert: it's the forest and wilderness), and the mental/spiritual stress we put on ourselves by maintaining that disconnect. I'd like to create a non-profit division of my beekeeping for holding child-based educational workshops, with the goal of keeping that incredible curiosity burning. In addition, having fun with honey (mead, natural health products like lip balm, recipes) is a big part of my interests as well. No young person of the new generation has ANY idea what an apiary is either, much less an aviary. So the nickname given to me, by my friend Mark, plus "honeyworks" was settled upon. Zeekeeper Honeyworks! I also got the Facebook page off the ground as well, feel free to join up for pics and other things that are shared more often than here on the blog :)

Zeekeeper Honeyworks @ Facebook

Hive Updates

  Wow, it's been wayyy too long since I updated this. Sorry guys! Things got incredibly busy between finals last month, an increase in work hours, and then had to fit beekeeping tasks in with the time between (including a massive cutout, building $3 hive stands, and a $15 solar wax melter!). So there really wasn't time for blogging in between, just uploading and editing all the photos that I'd taken to keep picture records.

   So I'm going to have to split these updates into four different posts. 
1) Individual hive updates
2) Cut out of a 1 3/4 year old feral hive, which was living under the floorboards of a tool shed
3) DIY: Building cheap, easy, durable hive stands for under $5
4) DIY: Building a solar wax melter for under $20 (and best of all, almost no assembly required)

   You may also be wondering why I have a toad as the first picture. I'd noticed that there weren't any dead bees around the hive and figured the ants had been taking them away. Then I noticed a toad when I went to do some evening hive checks, the week after that there were two toads, then three toads. Soon enough, all three toads stayed nearby day and night. It's the time of year where toads are reproducing so it's wasn't much of a surprise, but the lack of bees was still a mystery. 

   Then one day it clicked after seeing a dead bee get gobbled up by a toad. These three had made my backyard their home! They were hoovering up any and all bees that they could! All of this really has nothing to do with beekeeping. They were like my clean up crew, minus the massive poo logs they left everywhere. I just thought it was funny. They ended up disappearing after moving the Dothraki and Casterly Rock out to the bee yard. Sorry toads!

   As for the hives, everyone is doing quite well! Winterfell and Casterly Rock are both solidly building up their second Deeps. I was going to do a check on Winterfell today but got delayed due to rain, and by the time I got out to them they were mostly home, which means testy guard bees. So they'll get checked tomorrow. The above picture is from a check of Winterfell from two weeks ago. For anyone who hasn't seen it before, that's what drone comb looks like when normal brood comb (on foundation) is expanded to fit drones. Drones are much larger than the worker bees, so the width and depth of the individual cells needs to be expanded. A drone cell in the works can be seen just to the top right of the photo's center point.

A larger view of the drone frame. Solid white capped band of honey along the top, with eggs and younger larvae in the middle, older larvae and capped cells at the bottom.

   Casterly Rock thoroughly built up all 4 frames and will be getting their last 6 frames in the morning. 

   The Dothraki have also moved into a full size hive! They're doing very well ever since their new queen began laying. Something interesting was noted since they were also given two frames of comb from a cut out that I did. More on that with the next post though!

    I was also only able to do a quick observation on the Wildling hive due today's weather delay. No real update until tomorrow. They are happily going about their business though!

Fun Fact: Galleria mellonella may have the highest hearing sensitivity of all animals. They can hear ultrasonic frequences up to 300khz.
   If you haven't seen a wax moth before, this is what a wax moth looks like. Specifically, the Greater Wax Moth (Galleria mellonella). It belongs to the snout moth family, so it looks like they have little stubby "snouts" on them similar to a dog's snout shape. These things are bad news! If they gain access to a hive that hasn't built up to fill their living space then these moths can cause some serious havoc. Their larvae will hatch, eat comb, and leave a messy, silky mess everywhere. No bueno! This one tried to Solid Snake itself in when I was checking the Widlings. Thankfully I noticed a dark shape on the underside of the new frames, which wasn't there before, when putting the inner cover back on the Wildlings. Shame that they're so nice to look at... it got squished.

I'm going to keep this entry short, since it's just a summary, and there's a good deal to write about the cut-out and how-to's of the honey extracting! Expect the cut out entry to post tomorrow morning. I'm going to write it tonight, but I'm dedicating some time every night to learning HTML5 and CSS for building Zeekeeper.com. So it'll probly be a little too late for most people to read. Blog posts made good morning reading over coffee anyhow. Lots of HD pics will be included as well :)