Honey Harvest: September 22, 2012

Let there be honey!

Yesterday was our second honey harvest of the year. It was also my first solo experience of the year. While I missed having Mackay’s help, I’ll admit that it was a good experience to do it alone again. I remember how much work is involved and how much I actually do know.

I enjoyed myself immensely.

Here’s my report….

Hive 1

I pulled the first honey super off of hive one. I ended up with about 8 frames more or less full and about 60% capped. That’s much less than I prefer to see capped, but we are so dry here that we can typically survive that much uncapped honey without it going bad.

The second honey super had another six frames or so that was pretty much uncapped, so I’ll leave that another week or two and see what they do with it. I’m hopeful that’ll all end up capped toward mid-October and yield another round of harvesting (round 3!!!). If not, I’ll set up an artificial robbing situation and let the bees go crazy on it.

Hive 2

Very similar to Hive 1 but man were they angry. I popped the outer cover and was immediately set upon by a dozen bees. It was bad enough that I put my gloves on immediately, which is the first time this year. Everything I did with this hive lead to angry bees no matter how slow or gentle.

Like Hive 1, this hive had another six frames or so that look like they may end up capped in a few weeks, so I’ll come back and check.

Hive 3 and 5

I did not go into these two hives yesterday. If you remember, these are the hives with the fairly heavy brood populations in the honey supers. We tried in July to reorganize the hives just to see what would happen, and we ended up with brood throughout. Sigh….

I will save these two hives for next Saturday when Mackay can help. I think we’ll end up going through the hive boxes frame by frame by frame. My goal would be to consolidate down to at least a solid deep and a solid medium with brood and honey for the winter.

Still debating using a queen excluder. I don’t like the idea, but I may have to.

Hive 4

I pulled a single frame of honey out of 4, and it was a whopper! I’d guess the comb extended a good half inch beyond the wooden frame on both sides of the frame, and it was completely sealed! Sadly, there wasn’t a single drop of honey beyond that in the honey supers, so I finally did what I should have done a few weeks back and pulled both of the supers off.

Hive 4 is now back down to a good winter-sized hive of 2 deep supers. I’m still worried about this hive surviving the winter, but I’m feeling more confident. I think the hive is strong enough to round out its stores before the cold sets in, and hopefully that is enough. If this hive survives, I fully intend to requeen.

Honey

And now on to the honey!

I ended up with this sitting on my kitchen table:

Two of those are the mediums off of Hive 4 and the other two are from 1 and 2 and full of honey.

At this point, we left for a family picnic and came back  about four hours later to find, to our utter surprise, frames full of bees!

Turns out that I hadn’t done too close of an inspection on those honey supers, and we had pulled two frames of this:

Yes, those would be brood cells in the process of hatching!

I’d guess we had close to fifty bees wandering around those frames of honey and various other places in our kitchen. They were, as to be expected, utterly calm and gentle, although that didn’t stop the panic from Courtney.

Sadly, at this stage there was nothing for it, so we pulled the honey around the bees and then put the frames back in the boxes bees and all.

When we finished, I moved the four boxes outside to be cleaned by the bees, and Courtney caught a great tongue shot!

I did a crush and strain method like normal, but this time I set up a double bucket system. The top bucket has a solid lid but the floor has been cut out. The bottom bucket is a solid bucket with a hole cut through the lid. I hung a paint strainer (the best way to filter in my opinion!) in the top bucket, dumped the honey into the paint strainer, which then drained into the bottom bucket. After you put the lid on the top bucket, you end up with a solid, sealed strainer that you can walk away from without too much of a problem.

Right now the bottom bucket has about three gallons of honey, which brings our total harvest this year right up around 7 – 8 gallons. It’s kind of hard to say because I can only guess at the quantity at this point. I do think we’ll get another gallon or so off of Hives 3 and 5 and maybe another gallon out our third harvest from 1 and 2. Maybe ten gallons on the year with quite a bit of wax!

Last bit… I think we set a new standard for stickiness in our kitchen. You currently can’t walk through the kitchen without having that telltale squelch of your shoes releasing from the floor. I so long for a canning kitchen!

Oh, and I discovered a new definition of pain. No, I didn’t get stung, but I did drop my honey bucket. I managed to catch it with my big toe, just above the nail. The top of my toe is a brilliant swollen black and deep deep blue. I’ll be surprised if I don’t lose that nail.

To my everlasting credit, I did not swear. 🙂 Though I am tempted to believe that swearing in that circumstance might actually be encouraged.

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2 Responses to Honey Harvest: September 22, 2012

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Hope the sweetness of the honey makes up for the pain of the toe. The hazards of beekeeping!

  2. Sarah says:

    son of a building block!!

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