Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One Hive Leaves; Another Served Up On (or Under) a Table

After harvesting a full super of sage honey from my strongest (of only two) Carniolan hives, I placed the empty super back on the hive for them to clean up. Bad news is, this resulted in two things; an invasion of ants, and evidently some serious robbing by the other bees in the yard. The unfortunate result was that the Carni's absconded, leaving an empty hive. I broke it down and stored the frames, only to get a call from a trailer-park manager that a swarm had set up on their premises and they needed it removed.

The location was in Ventura, which is too much of a drive to do a free swarm removal. As it happens I was heading in that general direction for another reason today, so I told him I'd stop by and get the swarm, but I'd have to charge $100. Still way more affordable than an exterminator, and he was fine with that.

When I got there, here's what I found:

I suspected that this swarm had started to set up shop and create a hive, as they'd been there for 4 days and seemed to be behaving like a hive. Lots of waggle dancing going on, and when I looked underneath, just a boatload of bees.

I put a cardboard box underneath and slowly pushed a paint scraper along the underside of the table, causing a good portion of the bees to fall into the box. I closed that box up; obtained another box from the park manager, and repeated the exercise with as much of the remaining cluster as I could. I sealed them up, took them home, and dumped both into the previously abandoned deep hive body. To give them a running start, since we're closing in on a dearth here, I alternated frames; using four of the drawn-out comb frames from the Carni hive, and six fresh foundation frames. (I didn't like the looks of some of the other Carni frames, and in fact found wax moths and/or wax moth larva on three of them, which I set out for foragers to clean up).

As of tonight it seems the relocated bees have settled, so I'm fairly confident I got the queen. Time will tell.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bottled and Awaiting Labels

So I filled a variety of bottles with this honey, which this time around is what I call, "Amarillo." The Spanish sounds so much better than "yellow," doesn't it...

Taste-wise, it's amazing. Very subtle and buttery, with an understated sweet after-taste. Really good.

From the four hives, even with the extractor difficulties I described earlier which rent a few combs asunder, we pulled about 86 lbs. Here's the haul, all bottled and waiting for labels:

One additional note: Saturday I did a short "bee seminar" for the Los Flores Community Garden where I have two hives, and I brought the last of my April honey harvest to sell. They snapped them all up; I LOVE gardeners!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Honey Extracting Party

I decided to celebrate Independence Day this year by liberating some honey from several of my hives. In all, I took nearly five full supers from four hives. Other hives weren't quite ready; whether they had lots of uncapped honey or were too young (swarms; hive cutouts) to have excess honey.

My longtime friends (a million years ago from high school, for cryin' out loud!) Rob and Catherine came over to lend a hand. Both were very interested in the process, and I was more than happy to get the help! Here's they are, learning to uncap the honey frames:

And here's a shot of one of the frames. We had approximately 40 or so that looked like this:

Notice the dark patch? We actually had a surprising mix of honey; ranging from very dark (I'm guessing California buckwheat, Hollyleaf Cherry and wildflowers/domestic flowers like red apple and lavender) to nearly clear (we had an awesome sage bloom this year, with at least three different sage types). Can't wait to sample what that eclectic blend tastes like!

We ran into some delay when the extractor started "binding," meaning the gears weren't properly meshing and it was nearly impossible to spin. Fortunately, Rob is the next best thing to McGyver, and he had it disassembled, cleaned, lubed and up and running again in no time.

We left a heap of cappings in the extractor to drain through the filter when we were done, and it looks like we just about filled the holding tank under the extractor--- meaning we got about 100 lbs; which is about what I estimated. Remember, I took honey from some of these same hives on April 10 of this year, so in just under three months they replenished their reserves quite nicely. Depending on how the summer/fall flow looks, I hope to do another extraction right around this date in October.