Hive inspection, Aug. 17

And a honey harvest to boot!

I did an inspection yesterday with Steve, a good friend from across the street. Overall good news, I think.

Hive 1

I thought we might have another harvest out of this hive by now, but the medium that is still full is not quite ready. Another two weeks I would guess. This hive looks as good as it always does.

Hive 2

I’ve worried about this hive all summer. It just doesn’t seem to be quite as stable or as big as the other hives. This time was only a little better. The good news is that’s they are starting to build up the honey stores in the honey supers, but the brood boxes are still light and only about 60% built out. I’m nervous to pull anything off this hive due to the population and size of the brood nest.

Last visit, I had suspected that the queen had died or left, so I moved a frame of eggs from Hive 3 over just in case. Turns out there was no need. There is an okay–not great–brood pattern of all stages, so there is a queen.

I do not plan on harvesting from this hive.

Hive 3

Hive 3, as always, is monstrous. The honey supers were largely full, but it is ugly, dark honey built on top of pollen. I’ve never seen that before. In the brood boxes, the bees have perfect, bright non-polleny honey. I’m guessing that this is a result of all the mess with having such a disorganized hive earlier in the year.

I did attempt a harvest from those top boxes, and I’m getting about two gallons of honey. Not bad, but not great. The honey is filtering nicely as well, though I may try a second filter to cut down a bit more on the pollen. I can’t imagine that pollen tastes all that great….

I’ve been debating what to do with the rest of the hive. Part of me really dislikes this hive. It’s messy, ugly, filled with truly disorganized comb, and otherwise just kind of a hard hive to work. I’m tempted to pull what I can from it and let it start over next spring with a split. I’m also tempted to go in next week and pull out that clean honey from the lower boxes and then encourage them to rob out the upper boxes where the honey is messy.

Next spring, I should do a comb exchange in this hive, and I spent last night conjuring up ideas for cleaning those frames easily and recovering as much honey and wax as possibly. Right now, I’m thinking of a big solar melter of some kind with a screen on the bottom to strain out the heavy materials. If the hive is empty of bees, I feel like I could do that just by wrapping the hive in black and putting a big catchment on the bottom of it. It’s probably nowhere near that simple, but there it is. I’m not interested in getting new frames due to cost.

Oh, and I got my first sting from a dead bee! Steve and I were harvesting, and there was a dead bee smashed on the bottom of the frame, and I brushed it just right. And yes, the venom, is still potent and viable, though much milder. My thumb is very slightly swollen.

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