I wanted to give you a sneak peak of some of some of our new labels. These were designed by a former teacher and long-time friend of mine. She maintains an amazing blog full of her artwork and projects. You can check out her blog, You Could Make That
, to see her other work and to read some of her ideas.
I am really excited to get some of these printed. I think they'll look great on our honey! Let me know which one is your favorite!
When I first started beekeeping, I thought the winter was a quiet time to rest and relax after a busy fall filled with harvesting honey and before a busy spring when its time to get all the new hives started. I've learned that that's not quite how it works. Winter might actually be the busiest time for a growing honey company. First, of course, there is all the planning for next year. We need to decide how many hives to purchase, usually without a very good idea about how many of those we already have are going to survive the winter. On a side note, I checked on all the hives on December 31 and they all seem to be doing well, but there's a lot of winter between now and when the dandelions bloom. Winter is also the time to think about new products. Last week I began making my first batch of mead (see the previous post). We've also decided to try something completely different for 2011 that I'm really excited about. See our New Beekeeper Training Program
for information about how you can get started with you very own hive. The biggest job for winter, though, is getting equipment ready for the new hives and repairing what was used last year.
Expanding by 16 hives is a lot of work. The entire pile of equipment in the picture below needs to be build and painted before the bees arrive in April.
Maintenance is important too. At Golden Hills, the health of our bees is one of our top priorities. That means periodically replacing old honeycombs that can hold diseases that would make the bees sick. The best way to get rid of old comb is to burn it. Beeswax and old, dry pine burns really good!
The boxes last a long time, but I try to keep them in excellent condition for the bees. That means tightening up joints, cleaning, sanding and painting boxes that are in need of repair. It seems like there are more in that category every year!
Winter really is an enjoyable time. Its a time to reflect on the previous year, think about what went well, and what didn't go so well. Then we get to plan for spring and try out some new exciting ideas. I'm very fortunate to have a lot of help with all of the maintenance, but even the time spent on that is a chance to come up with new and better ways of doing things.
I've decided that it was finally time for Golden Hills to get its own website and blog. I'm glad you took a couple of minutes to visit and look around. I want to add a lot more content in the coming months, so make sure to check back. I'll try to get some new pictures of the hives up soon too!
I've been busy recently trying to figure out how many hives I'm going to have next year. I'm excited to put some hives in Coloma again; I always get some of the best wildflower honey from the central Wisconsin area. I've also been looking into putting some hives on farms in the southwestern part of the state, including Cross Plains and Mineral Point. I'll be sure to keep you updated about where the bees are going to be!
I got a chance to check on the bees last weekend and they look like they will be in good shape to head into winter. A few swarms in the middle of summer made some of them a little weaker and less provisioned than I would have liked but they seem to be healthy and are benefiting from this perfect fall weather and packing in a lot of honey from goldenrod and asters.