Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hi Honey! Honey Processing 2011-- in the beeyards

We extracted honey a little early this year, on July 4th, 2011. In summary, 2011 was an amazing year for our bees! We extracted over 5 gallons of honey, that is about 150 pounds of honey. We were also able to do a lot of outreach and education. For every part of the extraction process, we had an eager audience. What fun.

Part I: On Saturday July 2nd, we pulled the supers off of the hives we have in Bells. These bees are pretty much neglected most of the year, add in our not-so-textbook methods of saving comb from the bee removals and the mis-mash of equipment we own and the result was that the inside the hives was a mess.

Hubby did some much needed cleanup (scraping off burr comb, cleaning out dead out hives, and removing the comb from long forgotten inside feeders), I helped wherever I could.

There are two remaining hives in Bells (we lost two over the winter). Inside the hives we were happy to find that there were almost ZERO pest problems, no visible mites, no wax moths, and no small hive beetles. The bees had completely ignored certain frames, and overfilled others. Brood was present in several layers of the box, but we did not use queen excluders in this case so that is our fault. Despite the messy condition of these 2 hives, we were able to pull off 13 strong frames of honey.

Our kids and grandma and grandpa watched happily from the air conditioned cab of their truck. We did learn that working the bees in this bee yard is wonderful in the late afternoon, the tall cedars to the NW of the hives made for some very welcome shade while we worked.

Part II
Sunday afternoon, we worked the hives at our home in Farmers Branch. We had an eager helper from our church who wanted to learn more about bees. Ha ha, ask us to teach you about bees and we'll put you to work... nothing like hands on education!

Dr. Aaron got all suited up and watched in fascination as hubby worked his way through the hives.

Also watching (from the comfort of my air conditioned sewing room) were his wife and daughter.

After just a few minutes of working in the stiff, hot gloves, Dr. Aaron got brave and decided to go gloveless, just like us.

Four more hives worked and no stings, hooray!

Here is our haul the night before we processed. 7 supers nearly full of frames. I think we had 63 frames total. The stack of supers was nearly as tall as I was... and yes, we stored the supers in the house for over 24 hours before processing. We were very careful to get each and every bee out of the supers so it turned out to be a fairly safe way of doing things. If we had left these sweet smelling supers outside, the bees would have swarmed them trying to get at the 'all you can eat' honey buffet hidden inside. Inside the house, the supers were shielded from curious bees.

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