Saturday, July 27, 2013

Extracting Day!!

As I had mentioned before, the bees in the Brown Hive had been collecting honey for a while now. I decided with the good weather it was time to do some extracting.

In our Church we have missionaries who serve in our congregations. The two Elders in our Ward heard that I had bees and was going to extract some honey, so they asked if they could come over and see / help. Some of these pictures were taken by them.

I have a basic way of removing the frames of honey from the hive. I don't use a bee escape (too lazy to get one) and I don't use any Bee Quick repellent-type liquid. What I do is I remove the super of frames, and set it on the ground near/behind the hive. Then I remove one frame at a time, shake/brush off the bees back into the hive, and walk the frame across my yard (maybe 30 feet) to where I have an empty super on a table. I have a towel over the super to keep the bees out - that is where I put frame after frame.

It isn't the quickest way, but it works for the few frames I have. I only had 1 bee make it into the house when I brought in the frames!

Here's a (blurry - sorry) picture of one of the frames - nicely capped with a pale honey!

Last week I was worried if this hive had swarmed. As I was removing the frames of honey, I found a few frames in the center which looked like this:

The empty part was bone dry - not like it would be if the bees had not yet finished capping it. It was as if they had removed it. Either the hive was in need of food, or they took some of the honey with them when they swarmed.

I didn't take the time to inspect the hive - I'll do that later, and look for a queen.

So it's down to the basement and bring up the extractor!

I have a nice hive stand for permanent mounting on some kind of a base, but I still haven't gotten around to doing anything with it. Some day...

Uncapping was accomplished with my simple little serrated bread knife - no heat involved. It works just fine.

I ended up with about 13 frames (some partial) to extract. The honey was not evenly distributed, so the extractor bounced around a lot (another reason to build the stand - I can mount it to a baseboard and stand on it, providing better stability).

Here's the first of the honey!

The only filtering I do is to pass it through a coarse (600 micron) and fine (400 micron) filter, to get rid of the bits of honey and other bee bits. I also have a 200 micron filter, but when I tried that the honey took forever to pass through it!

I had the missionaries put their finger in the stream and taste the honey. They were amazed that this honey was in a functioning beehive just an hour earlier!
It looks like I got a little less than 4 gallons. I didn't weigh the bucket empty, so I don't know the total at this point.

(notice the newspaper - I learned early that leaving sticky honey on the dining room floor does not endear you to the Mrs.!)

Here's the haul. Based on the jars filled, I got about 38 lbs. Not bad for just one hive, in the summer!

What we noticed was that this honey is very light. Here's a jar from last year (left) vs. this year (right). You can see how much darker last year's honey was:

That's about it! I'm going to enter this honey into both the Spencer Fair and the Woodstock Fair - wish me luck!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Swarm?? Not sure...

Yesterday around 4PM I noticed a lot of activity in front of the Brown Hive, and a little bit less in the Green Hive. It looked like orienteering flights on steroids - there were many bees flying around the entrance. It looks like it may have been a swarm, but I watched for a few minutes but didn't see any bees making for the trees. They all seemed to fly out about 20-30 feet away from the hive, and that's it. But there were a lot of them!

I thought it might have been robbing, but I didn't see bees making mad dashes to the hives (last year I had my brown hive robbing out one of my weak hives).

So it could have been a swarm. But I spent a lot of time looking in the tree tops and didn't see anything. Within about an hour, the traffic was normal. Strange!

Today I went into the Brown Hive to see evidence of a swarm. You know you had a swam because you see capped queen cells, and you see fewer bees. I saw neither. I also saw frames of good brood:

Other frames had very young larvae on them as well (I thought a few days before a swarm the queen stops laying).

Looking at this hive, I wouldn't expect anything amiss. If it did swarm, then there isn't a laying queen, and I should see next week the absence of young larvae.

According to the bee math, there won't be any new eggs until about 20 days if this swarmed. I'll check next week and see.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sutton Queen Check

Last week in Sutton I did a walk away split, moving some frames to the nuc to let them raise a queen. I thought I'd do a quick check on them to see how they are doing.

Here's the nuc. You can see along both sides of the center frame a bunch of bees.

You can see on the next two pictures the characteristic hanging "peanut" cells of queen cells:

I counted about 5 cells, which is good. I decided not to mess with separating those frames - I'll let the queen be born and they can fight it out to see who wins.

I also decided to bring over a bunch of the frames of honey left over from last year's Sutton hive, to give them a food boost.

It's a shame to let this go to waste, but it won't now!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

All Hive Inspection 7-14-2013

We took a family vacation the end of June / first of July, and I didn't have a chance to check the hives before we left. In fact, the lawn needed mowing before we left, but the rain kept me from mowing, so I was a little fearful of the jungle that would be awaiting me when I returned. It wasn't too bad.

Anyway, the weather has been hot, and Sunday I had a chance to check all of the hives. You can see that the bees were active on both of the hives in my backyard.

Brown Hive

This hive continues to have a ton of bees. You can see how many of them were hanging out on top of the inner cover

There was a good brood pattern in the hive.

I even got to spot the queen here, marked with last year's yellow dot:

The hive is doing a good job loading up the honey supers!

I may plan to extract in a week or so. The lower honey super is pretty much full, and the upper one is about 1/2 full.

This hive continues to be a little hot - as soon as I open up the hive, even after smoking it, I get about 4-6 bees just giving me the business! But with the amount of honey they are bringing in, I'm content for now to leave it alone.

Green Hive

I put a honey super on this hive a few weeks ago, but it is plumb empty. However, the upper brood chamber is *heavy*!! It has a lot of honey in it. You can see this frame has more honey on it than usual.

I may have to take out some honey and give them more room, but we'll see if they start moving things to the honey super. Not as many bees in this hive as in the brown hive, but it is doing well.

Sutton Hive

There is only one hive in Sutton now. I panned on splitting it today. There were plenty of bees in the hive.

This next picture has an interesting pattern - not full of brood like you'd expect, but the cells without brood have pollen in them. I wasn't aware bees mixed things up so much.

But another newer frame showed some good "traditional" brood pattern:

I purchased this package from a RI bee supplier, and like last time, paid extra for a marked queen. But like last time, I got a package with an unmarked queen. Nothing like taking extra money for nothing! (I don't think I'll use him again).

I found the queen this day, and marked her with a red dot (for 2013).

As I said, I wanted to split the hive. So I just pulled over a couple of frames that had eggs and young larvae into a separate nuc. There wasn't too much in the way of extra honey available from the main hive, so I gave them what I could. I'll stop over with some frames of honey from last year's (failed) hive.

So now there are two hives in Sutton!

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