Archive | September 2011

Extracting

I decided today was to be the day I harvested. I honestly didn’t know what I was doing and probably have made a huge mess of things, but oh well. I’d post pictures but for some reason my mac isn’t recognizing my camera….

Anyway, I went and collected the 6 frames of capped honey from the hive, using nothing but my bee brush, the roof of the hive, and a wet towel. I would remove a frame of honey, brush all the bees off, and quickly set it on the upturned roof (so they would stand upright since I didn’t have a second super to place them into) where I then used the wet towel to cover the frames and protect them from the bees. I’m not sure how long it took me, but it was relatively fast in my opinion. The bees were EXTREMELY unhappy with this, resulting in a massive cloud of bees around my head for the majority of the process. My neighbors tried to talk to me while I was working but I couldn’t hear anything.

Since the whole super wasn’t full I left the four frames of uncapped stuff outside of the hive for the bees to clean up. I didn’t have any nicer/ better way for them to clean out the frames, so that’s what they got.

Now, for the mess that is my extracting process. I took three tin turkey pans and lined them all with a single sheet of tin foil. I scrapped all of the honey comb off of the foundations on the frames into two of the pans (three frames each) and left the third empty so I could set the frames somewhere to drip clean. I then stuck one of the pans in the oven to heat up the wax and get it melted down/together. Unfortunately we don’t have a strainer large enough or with small enough holes to be of use. Instead I used a salad serving spoon to move the wax over to one side while I scooped honey into a jar.

The trouble was that the wax didn’t stick together as much as I’d have liked, so filtering with the spoon had to happen every few scoops into the jar. I only filled one pint of honey so far, but I’ve still got tons more to go. I wish I could show you the pictures I took of the honey. It’s the color of molasses.

I managed to get a stinger in me (and a sliver in the same place at the same time) while I was scraping honey off of the frames. This is inside my house, away from any bees mind. It was the stinger of a dead bee, so it didn’t have much venom in it. My finger started hurting immediately though. I took the stinger out immediately and squished my finger in the hopes of getting as much venom out as possible. My finger is only slightly swollen, but not enough to be noticeable. My mom wanted to take me to the doctor immediately but I was fine. I had already started getting nauseous from all the honey I’d been eating while I was working, so it was impossible to say whether the sting had caused that. And although I won’t tell my mom this my throat did start to feel a little sore. If I’d said anything she would’ve rushed me to the ER and it would’ve been chaos. I was fine. It went away within about 30 minutes and everything was fine. No trouble breathing, just a sore throat. It’s a little ridiculous that being stung by a stinger not attached to a bee, which was old and had little to no venom in it could’ve cause such trouble though. Ugh. Allergies are stupid.

But it doesn’t matter because I’ve got a ton of honey in my kitchen! We’re going to get a good strainer tomorrow and then we can continue putting the honey into jars.

I also wanted to add that I checked the lower box for eggs to make sure the queen was still alive and found twice as many as last time and more capped brood. I only checked the one frame that eggs were on last time, because the bees were really unhappy with me, so I’m not sure if they’ve expanded beyond the single frame of eggs and brood. I didn’t see the queen either.

Mid September Inspection

I figured after over 3 weeks of leaving the bees alone I should open things up to see what was going on. I’ve been leaving them alone because we’re painting our house and the patio cover still isn’t finished, and I didn’t want the bees out bothering people.

There were 3 frames in the super that were 98% capped, so I’ll harvest those for sure. There were a couple more that were around 50% capped. The rest were only barely capped, if at all. The honey was the prettiest color though. It was a really deep red. I’d never seen honey that color before. When I harvest I’ll definitely take some pictures to show you. It was intense. And what was really weird was that I found a bee in the hive that was the same color as the honey. She was by far the prettiest bee I’ve ever seen. Her thorax was hairless and jet black (I had to look at her for a minute, because I’ve only ever seen queens without hair on their backs) and her abdomen was the red color of the honey. I wish I had a picture of her.

There was lots of honey in the rest of the hive. The top brood box was almost too much for me to lift. I was really worried that the queen had died though because all of the brood space in the top box had been filled in with pollen and honey. So had the majority of the bottom box. I didn’t want to go through the whole box in search of the queen because the bees were starting to get aggressive at this point (even with lots of smoke) so I just checked the middle frames for eggs. I only found eggs on one of them, and it was a veeery small pocket. They were freshly lain eggs though, and they were all at the bottom of the cells, so the queen is definitely still in there. And I know that egg laying slows down for winter, but it worries me because it’s so drastic. There were a few pockets of capped brood through out the hive, but it looked like it was all older cappings, meaning the bees were closer to emerging than to having just been capped.

I’ll be really upset if the queen has died or doesn’t have enough sperm saved up to continue laying through the winter, because they have more than enough stores saved up to get them through. Especially since once I harvest I’ll be taking the super off and leaving it out for them to clean up all the stuff that’s not capped. I think next year I might split this hive three ways. I’ll make a new hive to keep here, and then another hive for my aunts. Cause even though having a second hive at my aunts would be nice, I won’t be able to move things around as easily as if the hives were right next to each other. It might be stretching the bees a little thin though, so I might space out the splittings

Anyway, the bees have plenty of stores to last them through the winter, and I’ll be getting some of their extra honey. That reduction in egg laying is just a little worrying to me…