My First Hive Rescue

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Out of the blue…. Sorta – Troy, an acquaintance who is hosting one of my empty top bar hives called last night with a lead on some bees. This morning I made connection with Don at a large machine shop off of Highway 59 about 25 minutes from the house. Seems that over the weekend a large trunk sized branch broke off and fell to the ground. The piece in the ground was packed full of bees. The tree snapped at a knot that appears to have been the access hole to the hollow tree, an obvious weak spot. 

The piece on the ground housed the upper portion of the hive colony. The bees were calm and thickly packed into the cavity and comb in that half. The photo below is after three days on the ground and may have been cleaned up some during that time. 

While waiting for the chain saw Don fired up the man lift and we were able to get a better view of the top stub of the cavity…. not a real good look but not bad. On Thursday I will go back and we will hang a hive body with some drawn comb near the opening. We will have better access on Thursday so I can look into the cavity directly. Based on my limited knowledge it looks like the tree snapped off below the main portion of the cavity. My fingers are crossed that we have the queen and some brood. 

I made an uneducated guess and cut the trunk about 30 inches above the break….. looks like I guessed good. There was a small opening but the cut was above the cavity. I loaded the cut segment on my carry rack, wrapped it in plastic and headed off to Kingwood. The chainsaw cut end came unwrapped in the drive. At every stop I could see a few more bees escape. Oh well. 

I arrived at Troy’s house to unload and the bees were humming – a good sound, the sound of a buzzing hive…. makes me more confident that I have the queen and attendants. 

I stopped by my house to rewrap the log before heading off. 

  We created a necked down outlet pointing directly to an opening in my top bar hive. We sprinkled a dash of lemon grass oil at the entrance to entice the little buggers over. My top bar has three bars of drawn comb to help the transition. Fingers crossed! I will install a feeder as additional enticement. 
My wife commented that it looks like Christmas came early……. I was like the little kid that couldn’t wait……. Yes, I was excited! 

An interesting note, Don at the machine shop was anxious to find someone to rescue the bees, not kill them.  He is aware of the plight of bees and has noticed fewer and fewer on his 2 acres of land. One of the workers at the shop, Rick, has 7 acres up near Clevland, 25 minutes north of my home and had the same concerns. I was concerned when I pulled into the machine shop as a Pest Control truck pulled up when I did. My heart sank. Turns out he wasn’t  there for the bees but wanted my contact info for future opportunities to rescue bees. My faith in mankind is elevated. These good old boys deeply care about the environment. I love it. 


Culinary Experiment – Making a Vinegar

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Phase 1 of my learnings is a vinegar from one of my beers.  My ultimate goal is to use my backyard local honey to make a Honey Wine Vinegar after making a mead using my honey. If you are familiar with my blog here you may have seen references to my Beer Log at;


This is a crossover blog, phase 1 uses my Oak and Bourbon aged Imperial Stout. After much searching I found that home brewers also have experimented converting beer to vinegar. I drink my Imperial Stout’s slowly so I figured I could afford to experiment. 

The start, a bottle of Bragg Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar – the key ingredient – this vinegar contains the “Mother”. The Mother is the source of the bacteria that converts the alcohol to vinegar. 

I am using a half gallon jar for phase 1. 16 ounces of vinegar and several bottles of my stout. Dang it, I had just a little too much beer so I had to sit back and enjoy it while waiting for Monday Night Football. 

The half gallon jar in the background and my sample in the foreground. This may produce a tasty and inky dark vinegar…. Fingers crossed. 

Next steps – shake it to aerate the mix, cover with cheesecloth, as it needs oxygen to complete the process, hide in a dark and 70-80 degree location for a couple of months and then sample.

Side note; the Slide Ridge Honey Wine vinegar I bought is wonderful. I have some toasted bourbon soaked chunks sitting in the bottle to see if it becomes more than wonderful. I will give it a few months. 

From the garden today? A handful of green beans that went into today’s chicken vegetable soup. Houston has almost cooled off enough for soup. I have another 15+ bananas hanging, the sugar snap peas are climbing and some confused strawberries are blossoming and producing. 

These are in one of my strawberry towers. They look like they will be yummy. 



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