Sunday, August 5, 2012

Honey Day

Finally got a wonderful break in the weather, with temps only in the upper 70's and DRY (the humidity, here--we still could use some rain though we got just under an inch when the cold front noisily passed through, taking out a number of trees and limbs in the area.)

As I indicated earlier, we knew we were going to have a good honey season, with all the white clover this year.  I'll go through the process the way we do it.
We work in our "barn", where we can keep the bees out and have plenty of room to make a mess if need be.  Here we have a bowl of water, our uncapping tray, the 5 gallon filtering pail beyond and then the old A.I. Root Extractor in the background.
Here are a few of the nice frames of honey we have this year.  Today we extracted 19 frames. Here you see Kathy uncapping the frame with an electric knife.  She likes to use that--I can't handle it.   Give me a long, serrated bread knife anytime.  We don't have a heated uncapping knife.  We feel we can do what we have with what we have pretty effectively.  Perhaps if we had a bigger job to do we'd invest in a heated knife.  Maybe not.  Note the unorthodox pick we use for those stray cells that don't get opened from the knife.  It's an old ice pick but works great.

Here are some of the cappings.  After we squeeze all the possible honey out, this will become some nice beeswax to go in our molds.
After Kathy removes the cappings, I put two frames in the extractor.  It has a 4 to 1 ratio.  I crank about 75 turns, flip the trays to the opposite side and crank again.  It works pretty well and the frames come out in decent shape, with most of the cells pretty intact.
Looking down inside the extractor.  A cage on each side holds a frame.        

After extracting the honey from the frames, we pour the honey into our 5 gallon filtering pail.  It has two fine filters, so only the honey flows through.  No wax, bug parts or anything else.  It was only about 80 degrees so it moved fairly slowly through the filters. 
After going through the filters, Kathy puts the honey into half-gallon jars, to be split into smaller containers later after bubbles have all risen and the honey clears.  It seems slightly darker this year compared with last, but still as sweet.
Over 5 and a half gallons.  Not too shabby for a drought year I'd say. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ok--I'm Confused

Sorry, no pictures, but my plan was to simply go out and pull off a honey super, brush what bees were still on the frames and bring them in to extract this weekend.

This was the hive that, on July 9th, had no apparent queen.  I had decided I would let them finish curing their honey, take what we wanted, then deal with the queen situation.  I did put a frame of young larva in at that time but haven't really been in the hive since, other than to set the bee escape under the supers two days ago.

To my surprise, as I was pulling frames out  of the honey super, the third frame was full of capped brood.  Not just a random smattering, but a good pattern with a solid middle section of worker brood.  Needless to say, I was pretty dumbfounded.  Even had I accidentally put the frame with young larva in the honey super, the time frame just doesn't quite add up to produce that much brood.  There was brood on the next frame as well and some on the one after that.  I did find the queen, though she really seemed small to me.  I put her frame back in the brood box, with the honey supers back on top.  there are still some capped brood there, above the queen excluder, but I'll just deal with that later.

All I can figure is that somehow I must have accidentally put one of the boxes from the brood section above the queen excluder.  Perhaps my box of honey is still in the hive, down below.  I have no clue, and won't have time to go back in and investigate until sometime next week.  It's been so hot that even getting out early to work with them, I'm soaking in just a few minutes.

Anyway, I did get a couple good frames from the hive, with clean, white wax and light, clear honey. Last year we got 3 gallons finished.  We should get at least 4 this year I think.