This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Making Creamed Honey

  This is the time of year that I make creamed honey for my holiday gifts. The creamed honey takes about two weeks to set properly. So getting it done by Thanksgiving, usually is enough time to set, by mid December. I usually make plain and cinnamon flavors. To make cinnamon, I use powdered cinnamon. No all powdered cinnamon tastes great with honey. Being we probably can't get a taste sample of cinnamon with COVID, but I usually use a Vietnamese cinnamon. The mixture is 1/8th cup of cinnamon per 10 lbs of honey. Usually I will mix in my seed first into the warm honey. I take a bowl of honey and mix in the cinnamon powder. This gets the cinnamon wet. When it appears that the cinnamon is saturated with the honey, I then mix the cinnamon mixture into the pail of honey. Stir the cinnamon in so it gets spread throughout the honey mixture.

                   Making Creamed Honey

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Starlink - New Satellite High Speed Internet


       A Starlink dish is about the size of a large pizza

 SpaceX is rolling out Beta Testing on its Starlink high speed satellite internet service. Starlink will be a constellation of around 40,000 satellites located in low earth orbit. A SpaceX rocket mission can take 60 satellites at a time and deploy them. The satellites then will get to their proper location. 

The satellites will make high speed internet available for most of the entire planet. Right now Starlink consists of about 800 satellites. Currently, Starlink service is being offered in the northern US and recently part of Canada. Minnesota and Wisconsin are part of this service area. Best part about Starlink is that it will offer high speed internet to rural areas that have little to no high speed internet service. Starlink may not work in high density urban area's. Many beekeepers live in rural areas and could benefit from this service.

This service right now is beta testing, so at the moment it is not perfect. I did a speed test of my Centurylink DSL internet. I get 11 Mbps download and 0.7 Mbps upload speeds. Starlink users are reporting download speeds of 100 - 160 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps. This is quite a difference. As time goes on I expect to see Starlink have a pretty much steady number with most participants getting the same speeds. Some internet service providers will throttle some of their higher users of data stream. The providers slow down the stream. Starlink at this time, their capacity is so large, they do not see throttling in their future.

 You can go to Starlink's website https://www.starlink.com/ and sign up for information. I signed up two months ago. I recently was sent an email from Starlink stating that Starlink is being offered in my area and I could get the service. My friend who lives north of Grand Rapids way out in the sticks signed up and has received his dish on Friday. He will be setting it up this week. 

I do have a fiber optic cable running in my ditch. I have not been offered any fiber service. There is a guy about a mile from me who put up a huge house. He paid $145,000.00 to run fiber optic cable from the main line to his home (about one mile).  I think he should have waited for Starlink.

Right now Starlink costs $500.00 for the equipment and $99.00 a month for the service. This price could go down as the system expands. 

There are quite a few YouTube videos about Starlink. Here is a short video that shows the equipment and internet speeds. Plus compares speed with his Hughs Net satellite system.

60 satellites deploying from the Falcon 9 rocket


Monday, November 9, 2020

Winter is coming back

 I just saw the weather, winter storm watch for tonight. 4 - 7 inches possible for Washington County. It may go east, that would be fine with me. Why would I push the snow onto my neighbors from Wisconsin? Because I have not finished my bee work yet. It got warm here recently and it has been a little too warm for an effective Oxalic Acid treatment. Plus I wanted to give the hives a few more days for any left over brood to hatch out. 

 My plan was to finish the treatment when our temperature become more seasonal. I have my battery charged for vaporizing Oxalic Acid. So I am ready. Now the plan is to treat on Wednesday, high of 45, looks like that is the day. I will be getting the treatments done and covering my hives and my last winter work will be done.

 I have been invited to do a Zoom meeting for the Stillwater Bee Club next Tuesday. Topic is wintering, maybe discussion on some creamed honey. Could be that I am the only one left who hasn't completed their wintering, so my topic may be a moot point. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Solar Update

 The shorter days are starting to show up on our daily Kilowatt collecting. In June we were getting 105 to 116 Kilowatts per sunny day. Now in November, shorter days but the nice blue sunny sky we have had these last few days, has moved the Kilowatts to 60 - 65 KW per day. Which is still very good. That is twice what a normal house in the upper Midwest would use (30 kw per day).

 November and December are usually the cloudiest months of the year. So we are happy to be experiencing the sunshine. You can see in the pics here how the snow affected my garage and solar ground mount.

We had a 7 inch snowfall. Solar panels don't work when they are snow covered. You can see my solar panels on the roof of my garage. I did brush them off with a ladder and a long brush meant for solar panels. Then it took another four days for the snow to totally melt off the panels.
This is my ground mount solar array. I can change the tilt angle of the solar panels from season to season. When the snow storm hit, the panels were in their fall/spring angle of about 37 degrees. This pic was taken right after the snow storm. Most of the snow didn't even stick to the panels. If a person had a fixed, non adjustable solar panel array, this would be the desired angle to have year round.

Here I have the solar panels at the winter angle of about 61 degrees for our Latitude. At this steep angle, unless it is a very sticky snowfall, I do not think the snow can stick to the panels at all.

Here are our solar numbers for October. 1.41 MegaWatts or 1410 Kilowatts.

Monday, November 2, 2020

60's all week, Oxalic Acid, Do I Feed?

 This upcoming week the temperatures will be in the 60's for highs. If there is some unfinished bee work to do, now is the time to finish.

 Oxalic Acid treatments should be applied. Either the dribble or Vaporizer method work fine. Try to put these treatments on when it is around 40 degrees at the time of treatment. At that temperature, the bees are clustered and the treatments work much better than if applied when it is 60 degrees out. 

Feeding: Don't feed for the sake of feeding. If your bees have enough winter stores, do not feeding the bees syrup. When the bees take down syrup, the colony will be stimulated and egg laying may start again. If a beekeeper feeds all week, there may be a big patch of fresh eggs laid. Now the hive will have brood in the colony probably into December. The bees have to keep the brood warm and will consume part of their winter stores to achieve this. Plus, by having brood in the colony, mites will move into the brood, increasing the mite numbers in the colony.

 If you have to feed, do an oxalic acid treatment first, to knock down the existing mite population. Then feed as rapidly as possible. Best to use ProSweet so the bees don't have to dehumidify the syrup. 

When the chores are done, cover the hives with a winter wrap and wish them luck for the upcoming winter.