Harvesting 2012

The forecast showing temperatures in the low 60s and chances of rain for the next week, I decided I would collect honey from White Hive today, as it’s in the low 70’s right now.

The bees had moved a good deal of honey from the super into the rest of the hive. I took all of the frames out, one at a time, and set them on the overturned roof on the hill behind me, making sure to keep them all covered with a wet towel so they were inaccessible to bees. It’s a bit of a hassle, so I might invest in one of those boards that only lets bees out and not back in. Someone or other’s escape board its called, right? Anyway. I removed all of the frames from the super, then took the super off of the hive and shook the last of the bees out of it. I set it down on the bricks next to the hive, and then put the telescoping cover on the hive to keep the bees a little calmer. I then moved all of the frames back into the super and covered it with the towel and whisked it away to my patio, where I set it on the ground to be picked up on my way in.

I decided I should give White Hive a proper inspection and see the state of things before winter. I was shocked to find that the first 4 frames of the hive were solid sheets of capped honey. I took one out and set it aside so I’d have more room to work with in the hive (which is what I usually do). The bees were wonderfully calm and peaceful throughout everything, and they didn’t run around the frames at all. I took out several frames to look for brood (I eventually found two frames with brood on one side of each) and the bees didn’t really move/notice at all. I found Tasha on one of the far frames that were relatively full of honey. At first I was worried it wasn’t her because she was so much slimmer (I only found a small pocket of eggs elsewhere in the hive) and her ‘birth mark’ was greatly reduced to the point of being difficult to see. It was definitely her, but I’m sure she could stop laying for a few hours and be easily ready to fly.

With the lack of brood in the top box I wanted to see how things looked in the lower one, and struggled to move (I’d honestly put the box at close to 100lbs) the brood box over onto the bricks next to the hive. The lower box appeared relatively empty, with a strip of honey along the top of each frame. There was maybe a frame and a half worth of capped brood, and small amounts of pollen (there was none in the top box). I moved one of the lesser frames, containing a small amount of pollen and honey, into the middle of the top box to give the queen a bit of laying room. I decided to harvest the frame of honey that I had removed from the hive earlier. Two of the super’s frames had no honey in them, and I hadn’t put them back in the super when I carried the super away. I put one of these frames into the lower box, on the far edge, if only for a good storage place. Oh and the drone-frame was completely empty, though the girls had begun storing honey in a few of the cells. Drones were everywhere, though not in horrible numbers. I found several of them dead in the corners of the lower box, which makes me think they’re dying off on their own and not being evicted by the girls.

Having done everything I felt I needed to, I re-stacked the boxes and put the lids back on and moved on to Trunchen Hive. I put the frame I was harvesting off to the side, relatively out of the way, so I could pick it up on my way in. I took the lid and quilt off of Trunchen Hive and, after almost tearing the cloth on top of the bars in half because the bees had glued it down so effectively, peeked in through the bars. The wax was a nice yellow color and there appeared to be a fair amount of honey, though not all of the cells were capped. I covered the bars with the cloth again and began working my hive tool in between the bottom box and the floor. You’re supposed to turn the boxes to ‘warm way’ (so the bars run parallel to the entrance) for the winter so that less air gets into the hive and the bees stay warmer. Unfortunately, bees don’t like having their house turned all at once, and as soon as I lifted the boxes off the floor (the three boxes together weighed less than the single deep full of honey, which is slightly worrisome) bees came pouring out and covered my boots. I quickly turned the boxes and set them back down. Thankfully I had just tied the lace around my left boot (I put my pant legs outside of my rain boots and then use a shoelace to cinch them closed), but my right lace was annoyingly loose. I thought I felt a bee crawling up my leg several times, and they were VERY actively searching for a way in. Dozens had stuck themselves in my laces. I had to resort to beating my boots with my brush for about a minute to reduce their numbers enough that I felt safe walking away from the hive. I picked up the deep frame and my smoker and walked to the stairs. After beating my boots again I realized there was no way I was going to get away from the bees while I was still outside.

I caught my mothers attention and had her open the garage, so I could run in and loose the bees. It took a minute or two, but we eventually managed to time it right and I made it into the garage without any bees on me. Because yes, these bees followed me all the way into the front yard and were trying to follow me into my dark garage. White Hive’s bees only had a problem with me after I was digging through their lowest box, and even then, they left me relatively alone. After I was upstairs and had changed out of my suit, I saw that the front of Trunchen Hive was covered in bees. I’m glad I didn’t have to harvest from them this year. That would’ve been unpleasant.

Now that I’ve got all these frames of honey, I’m stuck waiting until Tuesday for my fruit press to arrive. I plan on using the fruit press to press all of the honey out of the wax, which will be scraped from the frames. I think I’ll then remove the foundation from the frames and put wire on them, because the bees drew wax out on that much faster. Tuesday is also the day for the beekeepers association, so I probably won’t begin extracting until the weekend because that’s the soonest I’ll have time with my school schedule.



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