Honey Harvest

Two visits have gone by since I last wrote here.  The bee inspector visited, and we didn’t have any EFB in the Apiary.

There had also been a lot of fears and warnings that this year has been so bad, so weird of weather, that our bees might actually be starving.  That they may not even have enough food for now, let alone for the winter, or even for us to harvest any.  And so 2 weeks ago I went and fed my weakest hive.  They didn’t seem to have stored any food in their Super, and there wasn’t much in the brood box either, so I gave them alb of a 1:2 mix of sugar and water, and that was all gone when I returned this week.

My main hive was fine, three Supers almost full, but that has always been strong.  But the weaker hive was clearly in trouble.

So this weekend, I wasn’t sure what I’d find, and met Geoff there to look over all the hives and harvest what we could from them.  But my 3 Supers were just about it.  We got one other Super off Simon’s strongest hive there, and decided to leave the rest with what they have to get through the winter.

So as we worked through the hives, checking them over, and Geoff putting Verroa treatment in them, I also worked on using the same methods as last year to try to drive out the bees from the frames so we could take them home.  Above is a Queen Excluder wrapped in an old pillowcase and sprayed with almond oil – which bees hate – set between two Supers.  It helped, and I pumped a lot of smoke through too to drive them away, and 4 times I moved the Supers towards the car, banging them on the ground to lose as many as possible before I walked them further away.
As you can see though I wasn’t all that successful, and ended up with quite a few bees in the car.
So that’s the total crop from the whole Training Apiary this year.  My three, still with the pillow case in to try to drive them off.  One from Hive 11, that was about 3/4s full.  And below that a Super with empty frames in – they just hadn’t been able to touch it.  Back in the Apiary, Geoff was working through them, bare handed as usual.  And he did actually get stung.  They weren’t happy with our actions.  I even got a slight sting through my suit and tshirt.

So I drove them home, still fully suited and booted, and put them in the garage with the window open.  There were still a lot of bees in the car, and we continued to find them the next day when we went shopping.  The weather allowed us to have the windows open, fortunately.  In the garage I closed the window once the sun set, so I didn’t get loads back robbing the next day.  There weren’t many left by then, but that’s where they died.  A fair few did come back and wandered around the garage looking for a way in.

So the rest of Saturday I was over at Simon’s, with Emily, extracting the two Supers of honey he got from his other Apiary.  From all those hives, two Supers.  Above and at the top are photos of the process, as last year.

Then Sunday we returned, without (many) bees, with the three boxes collect on Saturday.  And off we went again, removing the cappings, spinning them in the extractor, filtering the result into buckets.  We had only one frame explode – one of the ones in Simon’s Super wasn’t fully attached to the frame, and was heavy, so we sort of expected it.  So there shouldn’t be much wax left to fine filter in a couple of weeks.Leaving us with this:

That’s about 2.5 times what we got last year.  Which was the bucket bottom right, about 3/4s full.

Emily and I then returned the Supers to the Apiary, and put them on the two hives.  Feeders on top of them, and over 2 litres of syrup in each of them.  The bees will clean the comb out properly, and take the syrup down into the brood box for storage.

In a few weeks, when I get back from a business trip, I should be able to remove the top Super from both, and feed them more, and start preparing them to get through the winter.  We can then also filter the honey into my bucket with a tap on, and then into jars from there.  In the mean time the wax should be floating to the top, where we can rip it off with clingfilm.

I’ll write that up when I do it.

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