Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wintertime, and the livin' ain't easy

12 degrees today, and there's snow on everything. Not much to do in a beekeeper's life, except to wait. Occasionally, I go out and sweep the snow from in front of the entrance reducers, and give the boxes a little thump, just to hear them buzz a little.

The extraction went better than I thought. I borrowed Clown Mentor's hot knife and strainer, making the job much easier. I'll walk you through it step by step, with all the lesson's learned.

First, you have to pull the supers off the hive. There are a couple ways to do this. 1) Entrance reducers: these are mechanical devices, like a cone or one way trap, that will let the bees out of the supers, but not let them back in.

2) Blowing or brushing them out: Using a leaf blower or a bee brush to physically remove the bees from the super. The bees don't really like this. When the bees don't like something, they tell you.... in a very non-ignoreable way.

3) Chemical sprays: There's a few different types, including some that aren't actually chemical (they stink like really concentrated almond oil). You spray them on a fume board (like a cloth covered outer cover) that has been sitting in the sun. The heated fumes encourage the bees to move down out of the supers. This is the method I tried. Not too effective on cool days, fyi.

Next, you have to un-cap the honey. I borrowed Brad's electric uncapping knife, and it worked great. Then, you put the frames in the extractor, and spin them out. The extractor drains into a food-safe bucket, after filtering through a two stage strainer, to catch any little bee parts or cappings.

Then, you pour the honey into smaller jars, bottles, or other containers. I used half-pint mason jars. I wound up with about 18 lbs of honey, which sounds like a lot, but, in reality, is not much at all. At first, I was concerned that I was doing something wrong, but from what I've heard, it was a tough year for everyone in my area. Hopefully, next year will be better.

1 comment:

  1. My host dad in Belgium was a beekeeper, despite being allergic to bees. Thought it was very, very cool.

    Also, we have the same Blogger background! Go us.