it’s been super busy around here, the last few weeks kind of feel like a total blurr, and i haven’t had much time to post either.
a pretty significant event happened this last week; the first harvest of any little house farms hives. we have harvested a bit from a hive that died last winter, but never any that were still alive, and never in any large amount.
they have had a pretty good year, and ma decided that we could take at least three supers off of the hives.
there are several ways to get bees out of the honey supers, but we had time and only a couple of hives so we used bee escapes.
the bee escape goes under the honey supers you want to take off the hives.
you also have to make sure that you plug any top entrances you have. the idea is the same as a minnow trap, the foraging bees leave the honey supers though the escape, but can’t make it back in. bees are pretty smart, cause after a couple of days they figure out how to get back though the escape and into the honey supers. because of this you don’t want to put the escapes on earlier than one day before you plan to harvest honey. with the super empty you can just take them off. this of course only works if you are harvesting full supers of honey, not if you only want a frame or two.
it’s important to check the supers to make sure that no brood is in the honey supers, if there is any, the nurse bees won’t leave the brood. this was just the case with one of the supers we were collecting honey from. even with an escape on we opened it up to discover bees because there was brood in the super.
in fact the queen was on this frame – no way that the nurse bees and attendant bees were gonna leave her. we carefully placed her and the frame into a lower super, but there were still plenty of bees on the super.
so this meant another strategy had to be utilized. the brush.
many beekeepers don’t use an escape at all, relying on a brush alone. it does work, but it’s slow. it also means you have to be careful to cover the frames after you have brushed them to keep them from being robbed by other bees.
harvesting honey is messy work, and my pants became covered with honey, but the work does have the reward of yielding honey.
we ended up with 3 supers full of honey and this fame that wouldn’t fit in the supers, which we of course are eating now. ma is working as we speak on organizing an extraction party at a friend’s house, so look forward to a future post on extracting honey.