Monday, February 1, 2010

Summer of 2009 Honey Harvest

The first step is to smoke the hive just a little bit. The bees think their house is on FIRE! They'll go suck up a little honey, thinking they might have to leave and find a new home. This also gorges their tummies, and they can't roll to sting me..a good thing. The smoke also stops them from communicating. Bees communicate chemically. Therefore, they can't get a "rally" against the Beekeeper, as he does his work.

We then carefully separate the honey boxes on the stack. The boxes are glued tight with wax and propilis. Slow and steady is the key here. No fast moving of hands. Once the box is separated, we'll pull a few frames to check for how much honey is on the OUTER EDGES of the box. This will give me an idea as to how much honey the entire box holds. A full honey box will usually hold about 40 lb's of honey! More than you'd think, depending upon the size of the box. See the bees on the frame of comb that I'm holding, as I pull it up. The bees are all chilled out, no problems. As long as I'm tender and slow, they'll let me do most anything.

It's time to turn the box on end, and use the leaf blower to blow out the bees. This is the fastest, easiest way to get the bees out of the honey boxes. This doesn't hurt the bees or make the bees mad, they're used to having the wind blow them around. They simply think that a strong wind came along and just blew them out of the house. Once out of the box, they'll float down to their front porch and go right back inside. We'll turn the box around a few times and blow all the bees out that we can see. There will be a few bees that we miss, but this is fine. We'll deal with them a bit later in the process.

It's always helpful to have another Beekeeper come and hold the boxes upright as we blow the bees out. We never want a honey box to fall to the ground. The frames and combs of honey would surely break open, and we'd have a huge mess on our hands. Needless to say, thousands of bees looking to gather all that honey back up. We'll also put on empty honey boxes for them to start filling back up again. This will be the SECOND harvest later in August. The first honey harvest occurs around early June, the Clover honey!! The second harvest is mid August....which is Wild Flower honey!

Once the initial blowing of bees is done, we'll carry the honey boxes over to the tractor/trailer and stack them, and cover them. We may even have to blow a few more bees out again. Easy, no problem. And no mean bees! Then, off to the honey hut!!

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