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Month in the Hive – October

 

Autumn’s cool weather is settling in, which means it’s time for West Michigan beekeepers to maintain their beehives throughout the fall months and begin the winterizing process.

Bees residing in regions that accumulate more snow and tend to experience longer winters, like West Michigan, will need food to survive the upcoming cold winter months. For area beekeepers, we recommend taking off supers – leaving single or double deeps as the bees will naturally gravitate to the upper box.

Since bees keep the hive toasty and warm during the winter, with temps reaching over 90 degrees, condensation will collect inside, which is deadly for bees. Here are a few tricks to keep your bees snug during the winter without the deadly condensation.

1: Add a firing strip under the back side of your hive to tilt the box forward slightly and encourage condensation to drip down the inner front box to the bottom board and not on the bees.

2: Be sure the hive is ventilated properly. Add a riser on top to make room for adding food patties – those can go right on top of your frames if they are solid. We also suggest adding a piece of wax or parchment paper down first to keep any of the food from dripping or dropping. The bees will be fine eating through it or going around it for their food.

3. Add a quilt box with some wood shavings or other absorbent material on top of your riser/food to help control the moisture. We recommend putting the inner and outer cover back on and adding an extra brick on top to keep the top secure. Some beekeepers wrap their hives in roofing paper or add a manufactured hive wrap or insulation. Just be careful not to make it too warm or air tight, which causes the condensation. As long as your hive is well ventilated, you should be all good.

4. Turn your entrance reducer up to the smallest opening that can be used. Because many bees often die throughout the winter, you don’t want the dead bees blocking the entrance. Next, add a mouse guard to keep those cute, but destructive creatures out of the hive.


5. Inspect your bees. This may sound like a simple task, but it is an important one for beekeepers in October. As you examine your beehive, you can determine what condition your bees are in and whether they’re prepared for the winter ahead.

6. Most importantly: Enjoy your honey harvest and share your makings!

Happy (soon-to-be) Winter!

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Watch GLBC’s Genji Leclair make Habanero Honey Margarita and Healthy Honey Ball on Good Day Northern Michigan

 

In celebration of National Honey Month this September, Great Lakes Bee Co. Owner Genji Leclair recently shared her Habanero Honey Margarita and Healthy Honey Ball recipes on Good Day Northern Michigan on 9&10 News.

“Margaritas are basically just citrus and tequila, so you can get creative in how you make it,” Leclair told Good Day Northern Michigan hosts Sid Simone and David Lyden as she began mixing grapefruit, lime, lemon and orange juices with tequila. “What makes ours special is the habanero honey – it’s a great alternative to sugar.”

Great Lakes Bee Co. – producer of Hasselman’s Honey – was founded by Larry Hasselman in Newaygo in 1974. Leclair, who grew up on honey, took over for Hasselman when he retired eight years ago.

“I’m a honey person. When I moved to Newaygo, I popped into the local grocery store and bought the local honey. When I tasted the honey, I had to call Larry to find out why this honey was so good,” Leclair said during the live Good Day Northern Michigan segment. “From there I learned all about the honey.

“We do it exactly the same way as Larry’s done since 1974,” Leclair added. “We’ve changed nothing. It’s all delicately handled. We don’t overheat the honey at all – it’s raw right out of the hives and it’s very special because the microclimate in Newaygo is very unique with an unusual blend of flowers. We only collect and sell the honey from summer – and so you have this crazy good taste that’s different – very different. It’s just amazing honey out of Newaygo.”

For the Healthy Honey Ball
• Leclair recommends having a base, such as oats (grinded) and a nut butter – peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter.
• Then pick what you would want to mix in: cacao, turmeric, cinnamon, chocolate chips, cranberry, raisins, apricots, etc.
• Mix together – then add the secret ingredient: Honey
• Stir and roll it into a ball with your hands, then roll a topping like, coconut shavings or pecans or other nuts, over your ball and voila!

Charcuterie, Cheese or Fruit Board
• Add honey to enhance your charcuterie, cheese or fruit board flavors and pairings
• Blue cheese pairs well with honeycomb
• Goat cheese pairs well with lavender honey
• Leclair recommends playing around with different flavors of honey: pepper honey, habanero honey, etc.

“There are different flavors in the region depending on the floral sources,” said Leclair. “You can go to northern Michigan and you’ll get a lot of star thistle, which is a little bit lighter honey, and as you head down south, you get different types of flowers so you’ll get darker and different blends. It’s fun to taste honey from all regions. I really enjoy honey – people send me honey from all over the world and it’s just crazy how different they taste from region to region.

“Even just here in Michigan, across the state from north to south, you’ll get different honey and its different in the spring than it is in the summer and the fall. You’ll get a great experience tasting honey all over the world, but especially here in Michigan, we just have a lot of flavors.”

Great Lakes Bee Co.’s Hasselman’s Honey can be found at Whole Foods Grand Rapids, Spice Merchants inside Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, Rockford Cheese Shop; and in area Spartan Stores soon. It’ll also be available at West Michigan Meijer stores starting in mid-October. All honey products, including beeswax, candles, balms, salves, can also be found line at www.GreatLakesBeeCo.com

Watch Genji Leclair’s full interview on Good Day Northern Michigan, here.

 

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Month in the Hive – July

 

Now that you have your bees and they have been pollinating the flowers and trees the past few months, it’s time to stand back and let them make that delicious honey!

July is honey-making month, so it’s a good time to let the bees be as they work their honey magic. You do, however, want to keep an eye out for any swarms during this time. When this happens, the reigning queen and about half the bees will rush out of the hive entrance together, clustering on a tree limb or another similar object. This is called swarming, and usually only lasts for an hour or so as the bees look for a new home. Once the bees have found a new location, the cluster breaks up and the bees fly to their new hive.

The bees that did not leave the hive continue their work in the colony, collecting nectar and pollen and building honey combs. Within the colony, a new queen emerges and looks for rival queens. A fight-to-the-death combat ensues until there is only one surviving queen. Once the new queen has mated, she begins to lay eggs and the cycle begins again.

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Month in the Hive – March

March is here! This is an integral time for the health of your bees. Just because the temperature is increasing, doesn’t mean your bees will survive. You’ll likely see lots of bee deaths this month, so it’s important to check the hive and clear out the dead bees to ensure proper ventilation into the hive. A good time to check on the bees is on the days when the temperature hits 50 F.

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GLBC Press in The Michigan Farmer

Farm Progress, an agricultural and farming publication with a local Michigan focused publication called Michigan Farmerwrote a story about GLBC. The article gives a brief background on Genji’s story, the importance of pollinators in the agricultural business, details about buying bees, and information on how to get started beekeeping.

Continue reading GLBC Press in The Michigan Farmer

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DIY Bee Bath: Hydration Station for Bees

Do you want to make sure your garden is blooming to its max capacity this season? Ensure your flora are all being pollinated by creating an environment where bees want to and CAN visit while on their journey for nectar. It takes more than just flowers to draw bees in. You need to give them a reason to stay and linger long enough so they don’t overlook your many flowers. Having flowers and nectar for bees to consume is essential to attracting them, but an often overlooked necessity for bees is water.

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What is Swarming and Why Bees Do it

 
 
Have you ever seen the wondrous sight of bees, tightly grouped around each other in a giant pile wrapped around a tree branch or other mechanism that exists outside of the hive? Do not fret and do not call an exterminator! These insects are able to sting, but will only do so when disturbed. The swarm you see might look scary, but these bees are not interested in you or stinging you. In fact, they are far more busy trying to find a new home. That’s right- you just stumbled upon a colony of bees in the middle of a move!

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How Pollination Works

 
 
Like all living things, plants want to reproduce. Reproduction happens when a male fertilizes a female. Plants reproduce similarly by making seeds after being fertilized. In order for plants to make seeds, plants must first be pollinated. Pollination is the process by which the male part of a plant fertilizes the female part of another plant (of the same species). The male part of a plant produces pollen, which then must travel to the female part of another plant in order to fertilize it. Plants can’t pick up their feet and walk like other living animals. The male part of the plant relies on external forces to transfer the pollen to other plants, like bees.

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