Saturday, March 27, 2010

Our second honey harvest

We took advantage of a rare fine day this week to harvest honey from our remaining hives.

Looking left to right in the photo ABOVE we have hives 1-4. Numbering hives and keeping good records of hive health and vitality and harvest is important.

Hive 1 showed a lot of activity, the bees were fiesty, very active and noisy. We harvested four frames from that hive and extracted probably around eight kgs of honey.

While we had the hives open we checked the small hive beetle traps and topped them up with Diatemaceous Earth. We saw a few beetles but the traps seem to be keeping them in check. We also cleaned up the hives as best we could removing built up wax on the tops of frames using a new paint scraper bought for the job.

You can see the hive activity in the image below and you can see the black trap between the frames to the right of the box.

We also took four frames from Hive 2, which in contrast was quiet, happy and cooperative, but still very strong with loaded frames heavy with honey. You need to be pretty fit and strong to keep bees, it's heavy work. We harvest probably 12kgs of honey from those four frames. Giving us a total of 20.5kg from one harvest of two hives.

ABOVE - here is our capping set up - frames are rested on the wooden bar across the top (as you can see in the photo BELOW) - and using a hot knife, the caps are removed to allow the honey to flow.

You can also see in the image BELOW that almost all of that frame is capped. Any frame with three quarters or more of the cells capped can be taken for harvesting. You can also see how the frame rests on a screw on that wooden board allowing you to keep it in place using just a couple of fingers while you use the hot knife to take those caps off.

We are only taking four frames from each because we don't want to strip the hive of honey - its the bees' food - and we need to keep the frames in even numbers as our extractor BELOW needs two frames at a time to work.

The extractor worked really well, but doing it by hand is hard work.

Today we went to our first meeting of the Sunshine Coast Beekeepers Association - which is a really well attended vibrant group by the way - and we saw one of these extractors set up with a motor - great idea!

And here is our bounty - 20.5kg of honey settling for a few days before bottling up.

We will endevour to set up a regular maintainence program for our hives and keep an eye on them.

The Novice Beekeeper

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