Sunday, October 6, 2013

How to Prevent Robbing While Extracting Honey

The bees are really good at getting the message around that they're being robbed.

Usually we use smoke to cover up and interfere with that message so that the bees are gentler to deal with.

But when extracting honey you don't want smoke flavoured honey so it's best to avoid using it if you can.

The key here is simple: Divide and conquer--Remove the full supers and set them aside.  Then work to brush bees from each frame of the full super back into the hive.

The separation keeps the scents separated so the robbing message doesn't get spread around so much.

First if you have time use your best beekeeper tool and that's the bee escape board.

With the board in place 24 hours before you will remove a honey super the less bees will be left in the super to deal with.
 
Next remove all the full honey supers that you plan to take and set them aside. If robbing is bad in your yard take some extra inner covers if you have them and cover the top of each box if it is exposed (I usually stack mine kitty corner and then use just one inner cover on the top).

Note a piece of plastic and some duct tape covers the central hole in the inner cover.

If I'm running short on inner covers I'll even use some of the smaller sized political signs that I have.

Covering the tops even lightly cuts done on the smell of honey and helps stop the robbing.

We actually bring a card table to the bee yard to set the boxes on.  Why put your back out if you don't have to.

Of course as each frame is brushed off you will put it into an empty super and you will absolutely need to have it sealed with some type of bottom and top cover to keep the bees from getting back inside.

I turn inner covers upside down so that the notched entrance is up.


If the honey drips on them they're easily set out later for the bees to lick clean... or to take your finger and enjoy sweeping up some honey yourself. :)

As you work the bees may become more aware of being robbed and that's when smoking over the hive can help to mask their chemical signals.

With the supers all removed you can easily brush the bees into the hive or up into the air.

If your brush gets sticky while working, don't hesitate to pour some water on it to rinse off the honey.

Once done you may have to smoke the bees down to get them out of the way and also use your hive tool to scrape off any burr comb that sticks up--this will prevent the inner cover sitting down flat to seal the hive.  Put the scrapings out in front of the hive and the bees will lick them clean.
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