Bees in the Winter

Although bee season won’t really start until April, it’s never too early to get amped up about some of the coolest little critters on the planet! I’m talking, of course, about beeeeeeees.  Though the hives in our apiary may seem deathly quiet, the bees in each colony are, as we speak, clustered in massive, living “balls” and living off their honey stores, vibrating their bodies to keep themselves warm.  Since it’s been bitterly cold recently, we plan on taking a stethoscope down to the hives sometime soon to check up on our brave little patients–opening the hives during winter is a no-no, because the colony will lose the heat they’ve worked so hard to generate, but rumor is you can hear the vibrations of the mass of bees through the sides of the hives.  Check back soon for an update on what we hear!


If you’re a fellow bee enthusiast, read on for a bee candy recipe you can experiment with while you wait for the snow to melt…

Bee Keeping Tips/Techniques

Last winter was abnormally warm, and our bees started to become active and buzz around too early. This worried us because they wouldn’t have enough food (since the flowers did not bloom yet). Although bees save honey in their honey stores, we wanted to make sure that they had enough food so members of our class made bee candy. For more information on bee candy, look at the recipe below (made by our very own, Hannah Whitehead):

Stovetop Candy Recipe

1. Heat one pint (1/2 liter) of water to boiling in a large pot on stove.

2. Stir in as much sugar as can be dissolved. This will be about 5 pounds (2 Kg). More sugar is better.

3. Boil without a cover, stirring it near continuous until the mixture reaches 234 degrees F. It takes a while.

4. Pour into a mold made of cardboard or a container lined with waxed paper or butcher’s paper. The candy will harden as it cools. The candy will become brittle, and can be slipped on top of frames where the bees will consume it. Or pour it into an inner cover without the vent hole (use duct tape to cover the hole). Use the inner cover upside down with the candy in the  brood chamber.

Wax Extractors on the Loose

Keeping bees isn’t just about the honey, it’s also about the WAX!


So how do you get bees wax straight from the hive (above) into a more usable form (below)?


Meet our two new steam wax extractors! On the left is the industrial steam wax extractor and on the right is the homemade steam wax extractor.


At 21 inches wide and 25 inches high this industrial steam wax extractor can get the melting job done in a jiffy. There is a false bottom that serves as a water reservoir sending steam up a pipe into the tank where the wax is placed. Wax filters through a screen and into a bucket. One con about the industrial extractor is that you need to have a lot of wax to make running the extractor worthwhile.


Our homemade steam wax extractor is similar, but simpler, and super effective. The homemade extractor consists of an open-bottom wood box that has a hinged lid that is placed on top of a metal screen on top of the bottom piece of wood. A hose connects from a steamer into the top of the wood box. As steam is produced the wax melts and filters through the metal screen and drains into a bucket.


Both wax extractors have been tested but have not been used for large quantities of wax. Stay posted to hear how our industrial steam wax extractor verses homemade steam wax extractor competition goes!

Meet Our New Hives: the Warré

Meet Our New Hives: the Warré

Hot off the bandsaw comes two new hives, the Warré hives. Image

The Warré hive, also known as The People’s Hive, was developed by Abbé Emile Warré and the plans were published in 1948. The Warré hive combines the elements of the Top Bar Hive and the Langstroth Hive. The original design of the Warré hive allows honey bees to build comb in a continuous downward fashion by adding additional boxes under the last box. The Warré hive simulates hive construction in a tree where the honey bees can build feet of comb downwards. The stacking of the boxes is in the fashion of the Langstroth Hives, but the free building of comb off of a top bar is in the style of the Top Bar Hive. As fascinating as it would be to harvest six feet of comb, it is a little unrealistic to safely and easily perform that sort of harvest.

For this reason we designed our Warré hives to hold top bars in each box, like the Langstroth Hive, but the top bars do not have foundation so the bees can build comb in a free-form fashion. Each hive that was built has four boxes, but more can always be built. P1150325P1150336

A hive is not just the boxes, but also the floor board, the roof, and with a Warré hive there is a box called the quilt.


The floor board holds the rest of the hive and has a ramp entrance for the bees. Entrance reducers have also been created.


The roof is larger than the boxes because it completely covers the quilt box. The roof is designed to allow moisture to vent out of the hive.


The final part of the hive is the quilt box. This box is shorter than the other body boxes and is placed on top of the top body box with the roof placed over it and covered (as seen in the first picture). The quilt has burlap attached to the bottom to hold organic matter, like straw, to allow moisture to leave the hive and protect the hive from moisture build up.


And here is our new final product! Make sure you stop by our bee yard to view the rest of the beautifully painted hives by contacting

If you’re interesting in building your own Warré hive then CLICK HERE. Our Warré hives have slightly different dimensions than the ones proposed, but done so for no specific reason. Keep posted for updates on how the Warré hives hold our bees!

Why South Hill Forest Products is Good for your Health!

All products made and sold through South Hill Forest Products contain immense amount of medicinal and nutritional properties. While your taste buds are soaking our scrumptious merchandise your body is also reaping all their benefits.

Maple Syrup

Professor Navindra Seeram of University of Rhode Island has recently discovered that maple syrup contains 20 compounds that are beneficial to human health. These anti oxidant compounds are reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties. Anti oxidant compounds found in maple sap is a result of the maple tree’s bark constant exposure to sun. It is believed that syrup has a has a higher concentration of these compounds since it is boiled down to a highly concentrated liquid.

Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms are highly nutritious and contain elements essential for heightened immune function. This high protein food contain B vitamins such as riboflavin and pantothenic acid, and essential minerals including copper, selenium and potassium. Medicinal compounds of mushrooms include glycoproteins, natural antibiotics, enzymes, and enzyme inhibitors.

Honey contains a plethora of medicinal qualities, and has been a common affective folk remedy for many ailments. Honey is an excellent source of carbohydrates and is consumed by athletes to boost energy and reduce muscle fatigue. Honey contains anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Honey has can also be used in first aid situations. When applied to burns and wounds it helps prevent against affections, reduces the appearance of scars and expedites the healing process. Honey is probably most commonly used to heal sore throats since its antimicrobial properties work to kill infection causing agents. After a long night of drinking honey should be consumed the morning after to abate nasty hangover symptoms since it is believed to speed up the oxidation processes of the liver.
Mycelium Running

What’s the Buzz?

What kind of bee drops things?

A fumble bee.
What did the bee say to the flower?
Hello honey!
Who is a bee’s favorite singer?

Why so many bee jokes?
BEE-cause…bee season is starting!

The NTFP class is beginning preparations for our bees. This year we are making some changes/improvements to our hives so that we can produce more products (bees wax, propolis, honey, and more!)

BEE prepared for a lot of silly bee puns and jokes this upcoming month!

This little honey is one of our very own!

If You’re Sappy and You Know it…Tap a Tree

Ithaca College’s sugarbush is back in action. We managed to get ourselves out of a couple “sticky” situations and are now making products like it’s 1999.

Although our first batch of sap accidentally burned to a crisp, we successfully ended our second outdoor boil last night! Right now we have about 2 gallons of sap that need to boil for a bit more in our indoor facility (so that we can control the amount of heat and carefully measure the sugar content of the sap).

Group of students using sandpaper to clean our badly burned pan.
(it now looks brand-spankin-new)

We are also expecting our first batch of oyster mushrooms to fruit any day now.

AND, tomorrow (February 10th), a few members of the class will be attending a bee seminar, presented by the Finger Lakes Beekeeping Club to prepare us for our upcoming bee season. If you would like to know more about this event, click here!

That’s all for now, but bee prepared for more updates!