Thursday, October 21, 2010

Finally - a bumper harvest this week!

Finally we've had some clear weather to get out and harvest some honey from our hives.

It's been a pretty miserable winter for the Sunshine Coast, lots of rain and when it wasn't raining it was either overcast or windy - or both. None of it good for beekeeping.

I have been keeping myself busy though making soaps and I even made some honey soap. A basic soap mixture with raw honey added.

It gave the soap a very natural colour (that's cacao in those lines through the soap) and it smell of honey - very delicious and with extra butters and oils added, it will be lovely and creamy too and good for our skin.

Since I last posted we did have a swarm in our backyard which we endeavoured to capture.

We didn't have a nuc box ready to go, so we got busy making one (they come in flat packs from the suppliers)

Here it is finished but unpainted.

But unfortunately the swarm had moved on before we got to it. Oh well, we're prepared now for the next time we find one.

This week though, we were able to get out and harvest honey. We've been checking the hives in between times and maintaining the small hive beetle traps, but we just haven't had the time to do a proper job of extracting the honey and the frames hadn't been full enough either.

Here is our first frame of the day being uncapped. We use a steam knife attached to a pressure cooker on the stove to cut the caps of the cells of honey.

And this time we tried something different to bring the frames in from the hives to the house.

Normally beekeepers put a super box (just one of those white boxes you see on beehives) in a wheelbarrow and move the full frames in that with a lid on.

Problem is, as soon as you move a frame from the hive you either get bees from that hive following you wanting their honey back, or you get robber bees chasing you wanting the honey.

Putting the super in a wheelbarrow left a lot of gaps underneath for bees to get in to the box and you end up with frames with still quite a few (angry by this time) bees on them when you bring them inside.

This is when you're most likely to stung - and you don't want bees around you when your extracting the honey as you usually have your safety gear off by then.

So instead, we put our frames in a plastic storage tub with a lockable lid. We brushed the bees off and quickly got the bee-free frame in the box and shut the lid. We did this for all six frames and it worked a treat.
We were able to bring the frames inside with no bees on them at all, making it nice and safe for us and no bees suffered in the process either.

Here you can see a small hive beetle trap on the left placed in the honey super of the hive. These seem to be working very well. We've had the hives for nearly a year now and despite the rubbish weather, the beetles haven't got out of control.

Another shot of the busy bees. All the native plants we put in as bee forage plants are doing really well too. In a couple of years we'll have flowers, nectar and pollen on tap all year round for them.

And here's the stored honey. We have two of these honey pails full of yummy honey. Around 40kgs in total.

Now we have a day of sterilising jars, decanting the honey into the jars, labelling and storing them for the next local market.


The Novice Beekeeper


  1. I'm loving the way you share all your learning. I see you dont post very often here, but I'll pop in from time to time to learn more from you. Thanks.

  2. What a lovely discovery to find your blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I just got my first hive of bees a few weeks ago. Very exciting. Been anticipating their arrival since earlier in the year when a friend said he would give me some bees when it was time to split his hives. I have been wishing I had a perspex hive so I can see through it and watch the bees going about their busy little lives. Need to get in there and check them out, and put a new box on top. hopefully this week. I didn't realise I would need another box so soon. And ofcourse I can't wait for our first harvest of honey.