Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sweet, Sweet Golden Mess

This was an exciting and slightly painful weekend. I’m going to first brag, and then I’ll document things from the beginning.

The weather has been incredible; pollen is trickling in at a slow but steady pace. So…… I robbed a frame out of the supper yesterday.
(Apology: If you know who I am, and I didn’t share one of these 8 oz jars with you, please don’t take it personally!!! There will be enough to go around next April - I promise!!!!!!)

Almost mid November!!!!!! This is awesome. The kids and I are hooked on comb honey now, and I found out my wife has never been a big honey fan!!!!! 17 years of marriage and now I find this out?????

Ok, now that I’ve bragged, let me document the weekend. First, I need to up the sting count to a total of eight. I had some spare time late Friday and wanted to take some really up close shots of the entrance. Well, I found out how close is too close. I got it right on my index knuckle while trying to retrieve the tripod away from the entrance. These are my hands today, yesterday it was slightly bigger. No biggie, swelling is my normal reaction to a bee sting. The reactions seem to be getting less intense, and shorter in duration as I reach double sting digits.

Late in the week I observed a half hearted effort by the hive to remove the drones. I mean half hearted because it seemed like there is just one bee assigned to dragging them out. The drones just try to hold on to anything they can as the worker drags them out. After a short struggle both bees hit the ground in front of the hive. The worker takes a break after the wrestling match. The drone turns around and flies back in passed the entrance guards. Every 4 minutes the sequence repeats itself. I can’t tell if the same worker is dragging out the same drone.

I wanted to remove the medium supper, inspect the brood in the deep body, remove a frame from the supper and dust everything with confectioner powder sugar. It was a good plan but poor execution on my part. I was able to break the seal between the hive bodies, but I couldn’t take them apart. Too many of the frames on the super were stuck to the deep frames. As I tried to lift the super, I could see frames on the deep pull out too. So I decided to rob the honey frame I had in mind and rearrange the super for the 3rd time. I replaced the frame I took with a plastic foundation frame, and grouped liked frames with each other. This WILL be the last time I reconfigure the super. Rearranging the super broke enough burr comb between the deep so that I could now remove the super. This is how the super is configured, and will remain till next spring
(Picture on the left is after the inspection) I noticed that the bees were busy closing the top entrance. So I did away with it. I'll try next summer to see if they want or need it.

I inspected half the frames in the deep body. It appears the middle frames have a lot of burr comb under them, as seen in the picture. This is frame 6(E). Inside the red circle is the brood. Typical football shape. Between the yellow and the red lines are the pollen stores. Outside the yellow line are the honey stores. Below the blue line is the burr comb. All burr comb seems to have honey stores.This is the west side of the same frame. There is a good laying pattern but it seems like it is finally slowing down. If it wasn’t for the burr comb on the bottom of the frames, things would look almost perfect. It was time to button things up, and go try some honey. It wasn’t until I was putting all my tools away that I noticed the powder sugar sitting inside the shed. DO’H!!!! Oh well, next week. I won't inspect, just dust them with the confectioners sugar.

Once I figure out a good method to get honey I'll post my steps. Things went OK, but it could had been much better and faster. Here is the comb from the frame I took. Why are there two slabs??? It seems like the comb was started on each end of the frame. Instead of meeting in the middle both ends were overlapped by at least 6 inches. From the slight stomachache, and what I bottled, my guess is that we got 80 ozs from the one frame. Two of those jars are comb honey per the kids request.
Cross view of the honey comb
Crush and strain.
Bounty for the day.

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