Wednesday, June 4, 2014

More Bee Entertainments

Perhaps I've mentioned that we had two bee swarms recently. Both came from the hive on the far left, the Langstroth hive. The queen in that hive must be a baby-bee-laying machine!
For many weeks that hive has had a "beard" of extra bees hanging on the front; it's just very full, very flourishing.
After Adam got the okie-dokie to be out of his brace, he decided he'd better rob that hive of some babies, some bees, and some honey, before it swarmed yet again. So he got his bee smoker going ~
And our friend Christine came over to help. She keeps bees too.
Adam covered the hives and the humans with lots of smoke. This helps the bees leave you alone as you break into their home.
They stood behind the hives so as not to block the entrances.
The large box on top of the Langstroth was nearly empty because it had just been added recently. But the next "super" below it was loaded with honey.
Adam held a frame of honey and comb, while Christine brushed the live bees off it.
Bee comb with wax is a sticky, messy, somewhat ugly (but lovely smelling!) mass.
While Adam held the frame, Christine cut the comb out with a sharp knife and dropped it into the big bucket.
I had to leave at that point (prior engagement), but they proceeded to dig down into the bottom red box, remove a few frames of brood (babies), a couple frames of capped honey, and a lot of bees, and transfer it all neatly into the small beehive next to it -- the light brown one. Because there are babies in there, the bees that are transferred over will not abandon it and go back to the old hive. They'll stay in the new hive and "groom" one of those brood cells to be a new queen.
When I returned home Adam had placed the big bucket in the garage. We gave it a day for the honey to go to the bottom and the wax comb to float to the top. Kind of. Like I said, it's a gloopy mess, and with not a few dead bees in the mix.
This is what it looks like in the bucket. The top of the mass reached to just at the top of the letter "A" in Ale.
I collected my mason jars, my little sieve, and proceeded to let the honey drip out slowly.
And that's all there is to it, folks! Pure, from-our-yard honey. From this bucket we'll get about 20 lbs. of honey, enough to last us for the year, I hope. Not enough to sell, and Adam doesn't plan to rob any more honey from our hives until this time next year. He wants the hives to have plenty of food for the winter and to flourish.
Liquid gold ~
After we draw most of the honey from the wax, we scoop the remains out and return it to the bees. I spread it out in a box on top of the hive. They will take every drop of honey in there, and much of the wax, and reuse it in the hive. Bees are extremely efficient creatures.
 The Langstroth hive continues to flourish just as before. Adam says when he looked at the frames in the red box, he noticed that on the brood frames the bees had not places an arc of capped honey cells above the brood cells. Usually they do this to prevent the queen from laying more eggs -- she will not cross over the honey cells. So, when the "mind of the hive" decides that the big nectar flow in the spring is about over, and the queen needs to slow down baby production because nature is reducing the food supply, the bees curtail her laying.
 But our bees have not done this yet. Which means they expect a steady nectar flow to continue here for some reason. Which means more babies, more honey, and more yumminess for us.
Four jars so far, and counting.
So ... now we have four hives! Two are fairly small. That Langstroth hive, if it continues to go strong, might welcome yet another split. We'll see.

8 comments:

  1. Do you save some of your wax for your soaps and creams?

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  2. How exciting and wonderful to have your own honey! The bees are doing a wonderful job.

    Enjoy ~ FlowerLady

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  3. Thanks for the lesson - very interesting. Now the questions. Why do you call it the Langstroth hive?

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  4. Fascinating! There's a great deal of work in bee keeping, so I am impressed. We have a friend who kept bees for many years; now that she lives here in NC she doesn't do that any longer. I always enjoy her bee stories ---- now I can read yours, too! Blessings and a hug from here on Windy Hollow Farm!

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  5. Carolyn, I do use the wax. The honey is easy to extract, but the wax must be boiled in water and cleaned repeatedly before it's that pure, golden yellow color. I have used it in my products, and Adam has started making beeswax candles to sell at the market, so he'll use it for that as well.
    Dasha, I sent you an email about Mr. Langstroth :) There's also a Mr. Warre who designed a smaller bee box hive design.

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  6. Loved this post! I've always wanted to try beekeeping. I love that you both make things from the wax to sell at the market. Have fun! :)

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  7. Oh yum! I am not so brave around bees (allergy) but I do love the honey and it is so expensive. Fun post, MK, and love those fox pj pants. :D

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  8. What a fascinating lesson. I was wondering why the hive is the Langstroth too. Is it a style of hive? Lucky you to have all that pure, organic, raw honey fresh from your very own bees.

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