Sunday, May 17, 2009

It’s not over yet

It’s been a good start to the year but the honey season is far from over. Here is my bee yard, from left to right my Top Bar hive…
I’m in complete awe on the progress this colony is showing, can it have something to do with the type of beehive?? There are too many variables to really make a call. What I do know is that I provided 3 partially drawn out frames to the TBH and they have, in 2 weeks, pulled 5 more. I didn’t forget to remove the queen’s shipping cage this time, and I removed it causing minimum damage. I do need to be more careful about lifting the top off. It had glued itself to a few bars and when I lifted the top a few bars also lifted. Luckily there was no damage done to anything. Below are a couple of the new Top bars.

Next to it is my original hive. These guys started it all. Last time I looked in here I notice a lack of stored honey. Until this weekend I was a little apprehensive. I almost pulled my back removing the bottom super. The top is about 75% full and 50% of that is capped. I hope it can wait two weeks until I return from vacation. Here is the outside frame of the top super.

Next to my original hive is one of my NUCs from last year. One of the supers I robbed last week came from them. There’s not much activity going on in the current super. Palmetto and Palms flow is about to begin so maybe then it will pick up. No second super for them since they haven’t touched the one they have now.
Next we have the new Nuc of the year. I’m not feeding them but I decided to leave the feeder to block the entrance some. I want to keep these gals small and in the NUC for the rest of the year. They right now hold my emergency queen. If anything happens in the established hives these gals with their queen will step in. I like to take pictures while inspecting to catch and review what I may not see. I was worrying about not seeing any eggs in the Nuc. The pictures proved me wrong. There are plenty of eggs in 3 frames, it’s just hard to see with all the bees over them.

Finally my ex-angry hive with a whole new hard working pleasant attitude. No idea why they like to hang out as much as they do. The bottom super is 75% full, and the top super I placed on today. It’s one of the supers I extracted last week. Maybe this will give all the slackers hanging around some work to do. I’m hoping to have 2, maybe 3 supers to extract in a couple of weeks.
Oh yeah, I didn’t get stung stealing honey supers, but I got stung replacing empty supers. I’m glad the reactions are getting milder and milder.

First Honey Harvest of 2009

How much honey do two supers/twenty frames hold??? I was able to fill Thirty-four 12 ounce containers and seventeen 6 ounce containers, plus about 10 ounces of my personal jar for an approximate total of 515 ounces.
The 5 gallon bucket in the picture below was about 7/8 full, and holding the bucket on my home scale added 45 lbs to my body weight.

It took me several days to bottle all the honey. I need to revisit my choice for a spout. I didn’t feel like paying shipping for a honey spout and thought a regular spout would do the trick. It took just about 10 minutes to fill the 12 ounce jars, and the flow out of the bucket slowed down as the level dropped.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Time To Get The Honey

There is nothing more fun than having to put on a jacket and a veil and then starting up a fire in the smoker when the temperature in the shade is in the mid 80’s.

From left to right: Yours truly wearing my jacket and veil. The TBH (Top Bar Hive), Old Faithfull (My original hive), my eager hive (NUC from last year), my NUC (from this year), and my Mean hive with a whole improved attitude ( NUC from last year).Below are a few easy steps to rob honey from a beehive. Required tools: Bee Quick, cloth material (two pieces), inner cover, and a bee brush. Step one, remove and place out-of-the-way the super to be robbed. Step two, place the inner cover on top of the hive and then place the super on top of the inner cover. Step three, spray a cloth with Bee Quick on top of the super and put a hive cover on.
Wait about a minute or two and then remove the super. The smell of Bee Quick will drive a large number of bees out of the super and onto the inner cover. The inner cover will prevent the main body of the hive from being accidentally effected.
Place the super on top of the second piece of cloth, also sprayed with Bee quick. This will drive the rest of the bees out of the super.
Take the super 10 to 20 feet away from the hive and brush off all the bees hanging on it. Aside for a few stubborn bees the super will now be empty of them, and the bees you just brushed off will fly back to the hive.
I would prefer to rob the supers in a more natural way by using bee cones or Bee escapes. These methods take a day for the bees to naturally exit the super. I decided against this because it would give the Small hive beetles complete freedom to runaround in the honey and have a one day gorging feast.

Once in the garage I armed myself with the shop-vac to vacuum up any bees that may have still been in the super box. I cut the honey combs off the frames, dropped it into my nice clean honey cooler and crushed it. I retuned the super minus the honey back out to the bee yard for cleaning. Below is a picture of twenty (two supers) crushed frames.
Since this is a crush and strain method, it was then time to strain. The reason why I selected this cooler was for its nice draining spout. Below is a picture of the cooler draining into a five gallon bucket with two filters, a coarse filter over a fine filter.

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