Monday, March 14, 2011

A good day at the office

Things went very well indeed with the honey harvest yesterday. Queen Malina of the front deck and her team were numerous but placid. The smoker was perfectly behaved. After removing the box of honey a little away from the hive, I worked calmly and methodically to lift each frame, gently brush the girls off with a bee brush, and cut the honey comb out straight into a bucket. Each frame then went back into the box while I started on the next one. Once we were all done and I had two buckets of comb honey, the box full of stickies went straight back onto the hive.

Before I closed the hive up, I rearranged things a bit to pull another full box of honey up to the almost top of the hive and put the stickies box, and the new box below this full box so that it is easier to get to next time. There is one more box full of crazy comb - which I moved to the top while I work out what to do with it before winter. It is a bit of a mess, with unripe honey and unfilled comb in all crazy directions. I think I will need to cut this up and probably feed it back to the girls, but I will wait until they have had the chance to rebuild some comb on the stickies and new frames.

That sounds like a lot of boxes I know! - but I use manley sized supers, which really should be called "girly" sized supers, which are just over half the depth of normal ones. I will need to consolidate things before the cold weather sets in - the full box will come off and stay off, as will the crazy comb box, and probably the new box we well.

The girls were in my face, but not angry or aggressive. There was a lot of deep breathing and calm, slow, methodical movements. We all coped very well.

The brittle gums, of which there are many in Holder, are starting to flower (eucalyptus maniferi) which the girls are working hard so hopefully there will be a bit of a nectar flow this autumn and I can get away with harvesting the second box without leaving the girls short for winter.

Here is the very high tech way to get the honey out of the comb - squish it all up, turn it upside down over a mesh strainer over a big bucket and as kirkobeeo from Backwards Beekeepers says; "wait for gravity to do it's thing".

Kirk has a great video of him harvesting honey using this method. All the Backwards Beekeeping vids and resources are great. If you want to know how I get away without using chemically infused foundation in the hives and needing a spinner to harvest honey, you can read all about it on their blog. This method of bee herding is very low tech, low intervention, zero chemical, minimal work and low cost. I think our Northern Hemisphere folks are a bit ahead on natural beekeeping - mostly because they have very quickly had to rediscover bee herding in a post varroa mite and colony collapse disorder world.

Backwards is the new forwards.


sherdie said...

Congratumalations lovely!! I'm very impressed with your bee herding skillzzzz.

The Duck Herder said...

thanks SHerdie! It was so lovely to see you and the architect. I hope the wedding was good. YOu broke the cougar you know.

love duckie xxxxxx

Marla said...

If backwards is the new forwards then I am in like Flynn.

The Duck Herder said...

HAAAAH! Marla the Avalanche of Lerve has once again descended upon this humble blog!

Yay! Hello there gorgeous one. You will always be in like flynn and you would make a MARVELOUS backwards beekeeper - really you are halfway there!

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