Sunday, October 18, 2009

October Honey Harvest

An overcast Sunday was the perfect time to do what we think is the final harvest of the summer on Urania, as well as start the fall preparations. 

My impression of the work today - we're getting the hang of this!  

An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of extra work!  (or something like that) 

bucket of tools?  check!

this looks crazy - but if there's a lot of ants around, it's a huge saver.  The flat is placed on the ground to make the ground a bit more even.  The, a small table is placed on this, with the feet in little tubs (old Lush containers in my case!)  The containers are filled with a bit of motor oil.  I placed an inverted tray from my vermicomposter on top of this to make a big enough surface to hold a honey super.  (the table is about the size of a dinner plate.)  I've used an old milk crate before as well.  The honey super is now ready to accept harvested frames, and the whole thing can sit for a few days to let the bees do the clean up without attracting ants.  victory!

M added a board to the extractor legs, this helped a lot!  C also made a piece of fabric to go around the bottom grey bin to allow the honey to move off the wax and through while keeping the bees out.  

First super off!  It was *heavy*!  

First frame out.  Gorgeous!  A bit of burr comb tore off - the spilled honey gave the girls something to go after quick!

Uncapping.  It's so pretty, it's like you can hear the soft sigh of wax coming off. 

This was fun to see!  In several frames, we found cells with a red honey in them.

the aftermath.  :-P  We removed the queen excluder from the hive.  The hive looks so short now!

The white powder near the hive is powdered sugar.  One cup / brood box is dusted on the bees once a week for three weeks.  This should reduce any varroa mites in the hive before winter.  (Haven't seen any on the trap, but this treatment is mild enough that I'm willing to do it to be on the safe side.)   The bees aren't super happy to be dusted with sugar, and when they fly off / walk around it's pretty funny - they look like ghost bees! 

One frame was removed that is about one half of capped honey.  M is going to talk at a preschool about beekeeping soon.  We thought this would be a great addition - the kids can see drawn comb and capped honey.   I'm very amused my freezer is perfectly sized for a frame!

There was more honey than bucket space!  The sieve was balanced on wooden spoons above the bucket to allow the last of it to filter through.  (and yes, Mann Lake, we'll totally accept sponsorship!) 

It was hypnotic to watch the honey rain down.

A very productive day!

Next:  two more treatments of powdered sugar.  Some of the bees we saw today had full pollen baskets, a great sign!  We'll check on the bees after a month or two to see where they are at.  It's a balance of making sure they have enough room & not disturbing the hive and loosing heat.  I'm looking forward to hearing from the guild members what kind of activity they anticipate. 

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