With the sun's rays descending into golden amber hues, the bees get a reprieve from the dearth of summer. I fed throughout August and September, while treating for Varroa with thymol. The honeybees have come out of summer doing well and looking forward to the beautiful blooms of autumn. This is my favorite season, one that offers a blast of beauty from roadside "weeds" as well as a chance for the honeybees to add to their food stores in hopes of surviving winter.
Pollen baskets are filled to the brim with golden and orange pollen coming in.
This "little" nuc has really done well. It's always wanted to beard, even when it was cool outside. So I gifted it a screened bottom board after taking this shot. Still, they continue to beard. Some bees just enjoy it, I suppose. I took up their cue and started relaxing more and just enjoying the honeybees a bit more this autumn.
I took some time off from feeding, about 6 weeks. The apiary has that wonderful sweet and sour smell of goldenrod and aster nectar. I stand in the middle of the hives and just breathe. Another one of my favorite things. I also added back in frame feeders and began feeding heavy syrup to help bump up their weights. I'll feed for another month or so. I learned a great trick from "First Lessons in Beekeeping" by Keith Delaplane, and it works great: staple a small block of wood in the middle of the feeders to keep them from bowing out. Works like a charm! Just had to cut the screens down to allow for the wood block. I also have long strips of corrugated plastic floating in the feeders to act as life rafts for any bees that get stuck in the drink.
While spending time not mowing the grass and just taking it easy, I marvel at the honeybees taking advantage of every possible bloom that autumn offers, such as this yellow clover just a few yards away from the apiary.
In the busy heat and flurry this summer, my business manager (and wife) Yvonne seized an opportunity that placed T's Bees Honey at Mecklenburg County's oldest farmer's market. Mecklenburg County Market is located on Harding Place near Morehead in Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood. The store is packed full of regional and local produce, and now, Charlotte's finest raw wildflower honey.
Here I am at left with Dale McLaughlin just after our first delivery. Sure there are other honeys there, but T's Bees Honey is the only one from Mecklenburg County! Needless to say we were both thrilled. Dale's grandmother Pearl opened the store in 1937.
The quiet, wonderful little red brick store is an amazing place to visit. Beverly's Gourmet Foods are carried there, as Beverly is Dale's daughter. When you're there buying some of my honey, be sure to treat yourself and get some of Beverly's Gourmet Foods, too. They're amazing.
I also managed to finally make my first official honey label. I was inspired by a local field of flowering weeds near a shopping center in Charlotte. Each year I will make a new label. As every season tastes different, it will look different, too, at least on my jars of honey.
AND, I finally took and passed the North Carolina Beekeepers Association's journeyman exam and practical test at the association's summer conference in Hickory. Our historic organization was begun in 1917 with an initial meeting of 150 beekeepers representing over 6,000 colonies. Guest speaker was none other than Mr. E.R. Root of Medina, Ohio, who continued his father's work with the Root Candle Company and co-authored "The ABC's and XYZ's of Bee Culture". During this hot and exciting summer of 2016, I was delighted to learn I'd finally made it up a level from Certified Beekeeper to Journeyman Beekeeper. I only scored an 80 on the exam (but managed a 100 on the practical). Fittingly, I scored a "B"!
Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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