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An Apicultural Quest!


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#1 kocos

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 03:44 AM

Well fellow topiats iam at it again. I just took up a new project a few weeks ago and iam rather enjoying it!

Apiculture or in other words beekeeping (apiculture deriving from the latin word apis or bee) has been around for millenia. The first known reckords of actuall bee keeping come from ancient egyptian times or around 2400 bc.

The gathering of honey from wild hives has been around for much longer than that, more or less 13,000 years to be exact. Our ancients figured out the beneficial properties of honey, wax and propolis long ago and we have been using them ever since.

So Ive been thinking about beekeeping for many years now but never took any serious steps towards establishing a few colonies. After reading into the matter I realised that its far harder to maintain bee's than I had previously thought. Turned out that a friend of a friend works at a bee farm and has a lot of insight and experience in the matter. So I started making agarngements and calculations as to how much it would cost and more importantly how much maintainence would be needed for beekeeping.

The final step (literally) leading to the actuall purchase came about 4 weeks ago when upon casually walking into the kitchen I accidently stepped on a bee which had been feeding on a droplet of honey on the floor from my morning tea. I took the sudden rush of pain as a sign to finally get going and the next week I travelled down south to buy my first hive and bee family.

Just like with my truffle endevour Ide like to go through this topic in great detail and share my learning process and all the interesting facts about bee's and their products.

First off here are a few pictures from the bee farm and my hive with my own hard working occupants. Next up I will wright about propolis.

https://mycotopia.ne...=1&d=1317977020

https://mycotopia.ne...=1&d=1317977020

Smoking calms the bees down and sends them into the depths of the hive thus making work easier. Notice that on of the beekeepers doesnt have any protection on him, I hope ill get to this stage too :D
https://mycotopia.ne...=1&d=1317977020

Here are my very own little workers on a honey comb.
https://mycotopia.ne...=1&d=1317977020

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#2 junchieve

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 08:40 AM

Get a queen picture if you can :)

#3 kocos

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 08:59 AM

Only once spring is here, I wont be disturbing them anymore this year. They are well supplied with honey so should survive the winter without issues.

#4 mycowarrier

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 09:19 AM

Nice pics Kocos! I kept bees for 30 years and never saw any hive bodies like that. They're not american made apparently.
Langstroth is the style used in the states.

Propolis comes off the fingers with rubbing alcohol and paper towels. Then throw it in your smoker :lol:

#5 Spliff

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 09:19 AM

Hectic!

My dad and myself used to dabble with a few hives ourselves. He still does, but I moved out and onward, you know. We had about 7 hives going, I had my own suit, smoker, scraping tool and I little hut on the hill where we would spin out the honey, prep new wax sheets and all that jazz...man, some fun times had. Reading this post and looking at those pics makes me want to do the same, if only I had the land.

If you are interested in brewing, we used to use the honey to make a distilled honey liqueur, very delicious, and because it was home made we never really knew how strong it was, but it tasted good and often fell into the trap of taste v. drunkenness. I would be more then willing to ask for the recipe and pass it on...we used to call it 'Nectar of the Gods.' (NoG)

Super excited to see your adventure unfold, got my eyes on this one.

~Spliff

#6 kocos

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 07:34 AM

Nice pics Kocos! I kept bees for 30 years and never saw any hive bodies like that. They're not american made apparently.
Langstroth is the style used in the states.

Propolis comes off the fingers with rubbing alcohol and paper towels. Then throw it in your smoker :lol:


Yeah these are a hungarian design. They are probably the most common type of hive in the country. They are called NB hive or "Nagy boconai" hives. Since I have no experience in the matter I cant really say how good they are but all local bee keepers use it.
I actually collected a nice ball of propolis a week ago, its soakin in alcohol right now. Ill do a wright up on it later today possibly.

Hectic!

My dad and myself used to dabble with a few hives ourselves. He still does, but I moved out and onward, you know. We had about 7 hives going, I had my own suit, smoker, scraping tool and I little hut on the hill where we would spin out the honey, prep new wax sheets and all that jazz...man, some fun times had. Reading this post and looking at those pics makes me want to do the same, if only I had the land.

If you are interested in brewing, we used to use the honey to make a distilled honey liqueur, very delicious, and because it was home made we never really knew how strong it was, but it tasted good and often fell into the trap of taste v. drunkenness. I would be more then willing to ask for the recipe and pass it on...we used to call it 'Nectar of the Gods.' (NoG)

Super excited to see your adventure unfold, got my eyes on this one.

~Spliff


I might take you up on that offer man. I was thinking of making mead once I have the sufficiant quantity but some nice liquer would be cool meanwhile :D

Edited by mycowarrier, 11 October 2011 - 05:28 AM.
fixed quote


#7 wildedibles

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 09:32 AM

That is very cool I have fears of bees I am overcoming so looking at that yummy hunny I will stay tuned :)
There is many reasons to keep bees I am interested in learning thanks.

#8 kocos

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 02:39 AM

That is very cool I have fears of bees I am overcoming so looking at that yummy hunny I will stay tuned :)
There is many reasons to keep bees I am interested in learning thanks.



I was actually quite afraid of bee's too, infact I was for some reason convinced that I was allergic to bee stings. Thankfully iam not, and you would be surprised at how dosile bee's really are. I mean I walk around the hive every day, infact ive even opened it a few times without any protective gear on and they didnt react in an aggressive way. A few of them flew around checking me out but that was it.

I cant wait to harvest my own honey and pollen, not to mention the propolis and wax. There are a lot of good uses for these substances.

#9 Spliff

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 02:58 AM

Alright, so spoke to my dad, hes gonna do some digging up because he says he has quite a few different recipes for what honey can be used for. In the meantime, he said that what he would do is start out making honey mead, and then simply leave it to ferment a bit longer, so that the alcohol level builds up over time. As a result you will have more sediment build up though. He also used a wine makers fermentation pack to make a sweeter wine and then once bottled, you simply cap with very tightly rolled up news paper which still allows some FAE, but not much.

Anyway, being from South Africa originally, I thought you would like this bird, the Honeyguide, and how the indigenous bushmen (Koi San) have developed this relationship with the bird. Check it out.

mVtSYRmlirg

Ill PM you the whole accurate recipe once I get it, in the mean time you still need to make it through winter dormancy. I was greatly concerned about that Bee HIV that has been reported to be affecting huge numbers of colonies, like a mass pandemic. Not so sure where it is now, but it could be worthwhile to read up on these diseases as well of other threats (badgers?)

#10 kocos

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 03:08 AM

Propolis is a sticky substance used by bees to disinfect, insulate and protect their hives from elements, intruders and diseas. The bee's make this substance by collecting the resins from various plants. Since propolis is mainly resin it can only be collected by the bees when the weather is warm enough. So generally the ingredients are collected between 10-12 in the pre noon hours when temperatures exceed 20 c. The propolis varies in color depending on what plants the sourc was collected from. The smell is sweetish, honey and wax like with that distinctiv smell of poplar buds in the spring.

Here in hungary the main source of propolis for the bee's is the black poplar together with pine tree's and various other resins collected from the local vegetation. Thus the chemical composition shows great variation between areas. The resins are licked up from the buds by the bees and transformed into propolis thanks to the enzymes within the bee's saliva. This mixture is then applied to the cracks and holes in the hive to reduce the draft. They also use it for making their entrance more narrow thus stopping intruders for getting in.
I think the most amazing thing they do with it is mumification. Ive heard from various places that its common to find skullcap moths, mice and lizards in a cocoon of propolisz within the hive. Since they were too large to lift out the bee's encrusted them with propolisz thus sealing them away from the hive.

Propolis can be collected by scrapping the tops of the frames, or the plastic sheet placed on the frames. There are specially designed racks which can be placed in the top of the hive which the bees try to seal up with propolis, these racks can then be taken out, chilled down and the propolis tapped out of them. This substance is then usually sold to pharmacuitical and cosmetics companies.

The medicinal use of propolis has also been around for millenia. The two refrances I could find mention Ibn Sina an Arabian philosopher back in the 4th-5th century ad. and Aristotle himself. Both claimed that propolis has great health benifits.

Today propolis is mainly used to make tinctures against coughs and other airway illness's. Thats what I made of this big glob collected about a month ago from my hive. Its now resting in a bottle of strong alcohol, with the soluble substances slowly turning the liquid into this intense canary yellow color. It should be great for fighting off colds in the winter season.

https://mycotopia.ne...=1&d=1318320310

Other than its antibacterial qualities propolis also constitutes as an antifungal, antiviral and even antitumor substance. It can be used for treating wounds, TBC, parasites, various skin problems, and even hang overs. So all in all it seems to be like a very usefull substance. Cant wait to start collecting larger quantities so that I can share with my loved ones!

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#11 kocos

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 03:13 AM

Alright, so spoke to my dad, hes gonna do some digging up because he says he has quite a few different recipes for what honey can be used for. In the meantime, he said that what he would do is start out making honey mead, and then simply leave it to ferment a bit longer, so that the alcohol level builds up over time. As a result you will have more sediment build up though. He also used a wine makers fermentation pack to make a sweeter wine and then once bottled, you simply cap with very tightly rolled up news paper which still allows some FAE, but not much.

Anyway, being from South Africa originally, I thought you would like this bird, the Honeyguide, and how the indigenous bushmen (Koi San) have developed this relationship with the bird. Check it out.

mVtSYRmlirg

Ill PM you the whole accurate recipe once I get it, in the mean time you still need to make it through winter dormancy. I was greatly concerned about that Bee HIV that has been reported to be affecting huge numbers of colonies, like a mass pandemic. Not so sure where it is now, but it could be worthwhile to read up on these diseases as well of other threats (badgers?)



Thanks man I really apretiate the help. Ive seen a few doc's about the honey birds and the badgers, pretty amazing stuff!

We have a number of bee killing parasites, viruses, and who knows what else circulating through the bee industry. Unfortunatly its almost impossible to keep bee's without treating them one way or another against these ailments. Ill be giving my bee's a medicinal sugar loaf in the spring which is said to help against a number of things. Other than that there arnt really any larger pests I have to worry about. The hive is sealed off from mice which can cause a problem. There is nothing larger other than humans that could cause harm. Woodpeckers can be an issue but I havnt seen too many around the garden so lets hope they leave the hive alone.




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