Sunday, July 27, 2008

Honey harvest

I finally was able to get into the hives to check for honey.  I pulled a medium box with 8 frames off the top of Dolly's hive - the last box we needed to pull off this combined hive to get the brood chamber back down to the size where I like to maintain my hives:  3 medium brood boxes.  Because we are in a dearth (very few flowers for the bees to use as nectar sources), we went ahead and fed the honey from 6 of those 8 frames back to the bees.  All we did was cut off the wax cappings, and then set the frames out in the yard where the bees could find them. This allowed me to get the hive back to a manageable size, without depriving the bees of honey they may need.  They have been going wild getting every last drop from those frames.  

From Loretta's hive we harvested one shallow super (shallow box placed over the brood boxes to collect "superfluous" honey) of 8 frames.  The first photo shows a frame with fully capped honey (a thin wax covering over the cells of golden honey).  The next photo shows the process of cutting off the wax cappings so we can extract the honey.  The final photo shows a pile of wax cappings, with the freshly opened cells of honey shinning in the tip right corner of the photo.  The opened frames were then placed into the extractor basket, and we turned the crank to spin out the honey.

The honey from this harvest is delicious.  We harvested 2 quart jars, 6 one pound jars, and 24- 8 oz. jars of honey.  In addition I have piles of beautiful wax cappings to use to make beeswax lip balm and beeswax furniture polish.   I left two more supers on Loretta's hive and three supers on Dolly's hive, in hopes that we might get another harvest of fall honey.  All in all, it was a good weekend harvest from the bees.