Saturday, April 10, 2010

Winter's Honey Extraction and More

First, I'll follow up on the hive that I placed at the Community Garden (see below post). It's doing very well. I opened it up and took a look; a solid two frames of bees, and they immediately started drawing out the foundation-only frames I'd put in there. They're going to do just fine. I'll give 'em a couple more weeks, and then I'll move them into a full-size 10-frame hive.

Now, on to the subject of this post: honey extraction. One of the best things about beekeeping in the SoCal climate is that we actually can get an "end-of-winter" harvest. We had some nice rains in Feb., and the combination of Ceonothus, Eucalyptus, various Rosemary strains, and Lavenders led to some excellent build-ups in a couple of my hives.

Here's a shot of one of the frames from a 10-frame super; every frame on the super looked roughly like this. You're looking at capped honey, and along the sides some uncapped but perfectly extractable honey.

Here's another frame, this time immediately after I uncapped. I just use a serrated knife, which I dip frequently into very hot water, and slide it along the bottom bar of the frame to slice as thin a layer of cappings wax as I can.

When I pulled the frames from the hives, I use Fisher Bee-Quick, a natural repellant which I spray on a special "fume board." Here's the video I did last year, showing how that's done:

Which all looks and sounds great in theory. Unfortunately, sometimes you run across supers that have some brood in the frames, and the bees are very reluctant to leave. That's what happened in the case of one of the hives, so I had to use a "bee brush" (a soft paintbrush works well too) to brush bees off the honey frames prior to putting them into a tupperware container. You don't want to leave the honey frames out in the open, or you start a robbing frenzy when the other bees in the yard get a whiff of the honey.

All that brushing makes them mad, and I learned something: if you wash leather glvoes enough, they eventually lose that sting-proof quality that made them so desireable in the beginning. I got nailed THROUGH the glove; which meant the poison sac was actually outside the glove, and the doggone stinger was puncturing my hand again and again as I moved around inside the glove. I had my hands full, so couldn't remove it.

So here's my regular, unstung hand:

And here's the other one, about twelve hours after I finished pulling the frames:

Finally... I got a call today from a guy that has a beehive in a kind of soffit under some gables--- they're entering through an opening in the roof. He's going to build be a platform I can stand on while I pull this hive out tomorrow. I'll post some pix--- wish me luck! :-)

PS- By the way, the honey is friggin' delicious! I extracted a total of 16 frames from two hives, (ten from the hive I did a split on just a few weeks ago!) and I'll weigh all that to see what it comes to, pound-wise. The purple sage flow is starting, so I wanted to clear all the supers in preparation.

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