Tuesday, August 31, 2010
We went to Aggie's to rob the honey from her bee hive. This is quite a process and it involves taking what the honey bees have labored long and hard to produce. That said, they just might resent us taking their honey.
First we smoke them, which mostly covers up any alert, intruder, attack pheromone they might produce. We do not want everyone to get upset with us. Here I am with all my protective gear ready to smoke them.
The top compartment is called a super. It has smaller frames. The queen is kept down in the hive bodies by a queen excluder which is a screen that allows the worker bees access but the queen is too big to squeeze by. This keeps her from laying eggs in the super and the honey bees use these frames for just storing honey.
To get the bees to leave the super we spray a product called Bee Gone on felt inside the top of a cover. They cannot stand the smell of this product. They will leave the super and go down into the hive body after a few minutes. We waited about 15 minutes and opened the hive and low and behold only a few hold outs (bees who must not have a good sense of smell).
Harry removed each frame...blew off the remaining bees and placed the frame in a hive body we had positioned in a wheel barrel. I quickly covered it with a towel. We did not want the bees to find the honey.
Note: the limit of his protection was long sleeves. Bees like him.
He is using a neat little clamp that makes lifting the frames much easier. Bees have stuck the frames into the hive with their propolis.Perhaps this is to make it difficult for us.
Once we had all the frames in the wheel barrel and covered for security reasons (we did not want the bees to know thieves were at work) it is off to the garage. You have to work with the honey in an enclosure or the bees, yellow jackets, and other insects will find you. Who needs that kind of competition?
We are members of the local beekeepers association and have use of the honey extraction equipment. This includes the extractor, hot knife, and a plastic tub for catching the wax.
Aggie is removing the wax capping using the hot knife.
We all had to try this. This is the most fun!
Frames are then placed in the extractor and spun by turning the crank. It works like a centrifuge and spins the honey out of the comb.
Unfortunately my camera battery died about this time.
The next day Harry cleaned up the extractor. Well he thought he had cleaned it ... and he looked out to find the bees did not approve of the cleaning job he had done and they were finishing it for him. They took every last drop of honey form the extractor.