The other day, we finally harvested honey from Hive 2. You may recall from my last post that I wasn’t looking forward to this harvest because I expected the Hive 2 girls to be upset with us. After an easy July 4 harvest from the gentle girls in Hive 3, we had opened up Hive 2 just to see how things were going and met with immediate defensiveness. I’d been dreading what I anticipated would be a battle.
On July 4, we prepared for the honey harvest by setting out the cappings knife, cappings scratcher, extractor, honey bucket, and sieve in the kitchen. We brought three extra hive boxes out to the bee yard so they’d be handy when we were ready to place honey frames in them. I even pulled out a plastic box with a lid just in case we need more boxes to hold honey frames. I dampened two white towels to act as covers for the harvest boxes, and I got out a hive lid to act as the bottom for our harvest boxes.
The bees have really proposed the hive.
When I cracked open the hive, I was amazed at the amount of propolis gluing the hive bodies together. I felt bad opening the propolis seal, as I knew I was probably setting the hive back a couple of days from their winter preparations. The Hive 2 bees calmly walked over the top bars. I was a little surprised as I thought they’d be pinging off my veil by now. The top box we were preparing to harvest was a deep box. The girls did not seem at all perturbed by my prying hive tool.
I decided to pop out the first frame from the edge of the box to get the girls used to the idea. I gave them two puffs of smoke and then waited a minute. Some bees went down into the hive body, but many stayed on top. I carefully pulled out the frame and saw a gorgeous expanse of beautifully capped honey. All the frames in this box were this way. And so it went…I pulled out frames one by one, shook them over the hive so that the bees covering them would fall into their home, and then handed them off to my harvesting partner who gently brushed the remaining stubborn bees off the frame.
Gently brushing the bees off the frame
When we brought our first box of frames of honey into the kitchen (our honey harvesting room) and lifted off the damp towel, a bee flew out. Somehow, she disappeared. We heard her but couldn’t locate her! We then heard some frantic buzzing. Was she caught in a spider web? We thought she would go towards the window, but she didn’t. She later showed up at the window and we were able to bring her out of the house. All in all, our Hive 2 bees were just as gentle and delightful as our Hive 3 girls. I shouldn’t have worried!
We haven’t bottled all the honey yet. We’ve run out of bottles! But we think we might have gotten 7 gallons (26.5 liters) of honey from 16 deep and 6 medium frames.
Are you winding down with your honey harvests? Did you learn any tips that you can pass on to me and the readers?
Update: Feral Bees In Utility Pole
Although I haven’t mentioned the feral hive since last March, I check in on them weekly as they are close to the market I frequent. The new utility pole has been installed, but they have yet to remove the old pole with the feral hive’s nest. As you know, there was a person or persons molesting the hive by stuffing debris into the chamber and throwing rocks and bricks at the bees; there is a pile of rocks and bricks at the base of the pole. We had fastened a metal plate over the hive entrance as protection last March. Recently, the vandals pried the cover off and widened the entrance of the hive so they could more easily annoy the bees.
The beekeeper who was supposed to collect this swarm told me she would retrieve them in June or July. Unfortunately, it is now August, and sadly, I don’t think it will be happening soon. My last email to her went unanswered.
Yesterday evening, I happened to drive by the utility pole and noticed something looked different. I swung the car around to park because I wanted to check in on the hive, and this is what I found:
Full-body armor for the bees! The message says: Leave us Bee, Bee Kind, Bee Cool, Bee at Peace. I like that. These kind people even drilled three small entrances for the bees:
I am happy to find that we weren’t the only ones who cared about the bees.