Sunday, August 14, 2011

Honey in the Air

Usually the smell of honey in the air is quite pleasant but on this excursion I don't think it was helpful.

I took five supers off Hive #1.  Three of them had been previously extracted and returned as wets.  The bees had started filling them with nectar but they weren't capped yet.  I made the decision to take them.

I'll put the supers in the freezer to give back next spring as wets.  The reason was twofold, I want to encourage them to finish filling the three supers they were left with and then get started on the deep.

The two supers were nearly full and quite heavy - those will be theirs for winter.  The deep was pretty light so I knew that the queen would be using it for brood.  Last year the deeps were too light so this year I'd rather overdo it and give the bees lots of time.

As I worked alone brushing bees off the frames into the hive I noticed that bees were coming and trying to rob the boxes I'd removed but hadn't brushed off yet.

When I finished and closed up the yard settled down. I knew it would rain the next day and I had limited time. I decided to tackle another hive.

I was concerned that Hive #4 might be queenless - yes now I'm over reactive after Hive 2 had lost their queen.  So I removed all supers down to the deep and pulled a frame.  Lots of capped worker cells and larvae of different ages.  So they're not queenless and I can relax.

Hive #4's deep weight after a heft was identical to Hive #1's.  I took 3 supers from them and left them with three - two that are full and one to work on.

With the smell of honey already in the air the robbers returned.  What I should have done is covered the supers to keep the bees inside and not let in the robbers.

The way I do extraction is to remove all the supers I'm going to take from. These sit next to the hive on a table. Then I place an empty super on the hive and brush off the frames into the hive. Any frames I'm not taking can then be set into the empty super on the hive. The empty super also provides a place for the brushed off bees to go so they don't just pile up on top of the box.

The stinging started then and for the first time I put garden gloves on to help preserve my fingers from stings so I could finish.

It was getting late in the day and I'm sure the bees weren't too happy with me but finally I was done. Sadly I counted 25 dead bees - all from fighting. Another lesson to be learned.

The second and more pressing reason to take the supers with uncapped frames from the hives is that we may have to move our bees next week. Our deadline to be out of the bee yard is 19 Aug 2011.

And we have no where to go.

But more on that situation in my next post.
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