It’s A Sticky Business
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As most of you will know, last year there was a lot of beekeeping effort on my part – involving approx. 2 swarms, Queen Less colonies, high varroa and several panic attacks. And there was not a lot in return – 4 jars of honey, 2 of which were unripe and the other 2 scraped out of the comb. Read: The joys and guilt of harvesting my first honey for how my first harvest panned out.

This year however, I have actually PRODUCED! Or rather my bees have.

Yes – one of my hives has produced a surplus of honey – about 13lb which has filled 25 jars.  It might not be enough to sell to shops, but it does mean that I have enough to give to friends (very discerning ones) for Christmas. Not bad for three frames of bees with a Queen that I put in their new home on the 9th June!

Frame Of Capped Honey

Frame Of Capped Honey

I consider the success a joint effort. Yes the bees have worked hard (to produce this quantity the bees have flown about 700,000 miles – that’s the equivalent of almost two trips from the Earth to the Moon and back and visited about 26,000,000 flowers) and I, of course, have done the vital task of peering at them occasionally (a.k.a. “inspecting”).

If you find these numbers mind blowing, check out my new page on Honey Facts.

The process of extraction was fun, if time consuming and sticky. Here’s my STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO EXTRACTION

1 – FIND A LOCATION – And by this, I mean find somewhere other than your own home to do the extraction. In my case, it was my parent’s house. This was agreed with simply bribery and promises of a year long supply of honey.

2 – GET HELP – In my case, my Mum and Dad. Basically they couldn’t resist getting involved.

3 – DO NOT GIVE TOO MANY INSTRUCTIONS TO YOUR HELPER (and definitely do not “ssshhhh” her when she is trying to give advice) – Or your mum might decide she can, in fact, ‘resist’ the urge to help you.

4 – MARVEL AT THE CAPPED HONEY FRAMES – It’s true! The evidence! These bees really do make honey.

Fat Supers Full Of Honey

Fat Supers Full Of Honey

5 – CUT THE CAPS – Uncapping the honey is like undressing a gorgeous woman. Only a little bit less intimidating and even more fiddly.

Cutting Caps Off Frame Of Honey

Cutting Caps Off Frame Of Honey

It’s fascinating to cut off the wax cappings and watch the honey ooze out and reflect on the process that has resulted in this golden liquid, before putting it in the extractor (which I borrowed from a fellow beekeeper) and spinning it.

Frame Of Uncapped Honey

Frame Of Uncapped Honey

Honey Frames In Extractor

Honey Frames In Extractor

It’s surprising to see that the comb is empty after just 1 minute of spinning.  You think that you haven’t got much in the bottom of the tank but before you know it you need to empty it into a plastic tub.  And 14 frames later you might have filled that 30lb tub.

Empty Honey Frame After Extraction

Empty Honey Frame After Extraction

6 – STOP FOR TEA – It’s a long process. I optimistically started at 7.30pm thinking I’d be back in time for a bit of News at 10, but came staggering back home at 2am.

It’s a sad day when your late nights no longer involve snakebite, clubbing and kebabs, but tea, biscuits and your parents … Mind you, both have the same sticky floor effect.

Filtering Honey Using 1.5mm Filter

Filtering Honey Using 1.5mm Filter

7 – TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR JARS – Yes! Finally a use for my labels! I am inordinately proud of my jars. Have a read of my labelling advice page to find out what you legally need to put on there, and how to go about producing them.

Wotton-under-Edge Honey

Wotton-under-Edge Honey

8 – TIDY UP – Or promise to. I had to come back the next day. My Dad and I (I know, it’s shameful) both had a go at mopping up the honey but the floor remained sticky three washes in.

I’ve subsequently spent some time researching the best ways to clean up honey and it seems it’s … hot water and hard scrubbing. Exactly what you do not want to hear.

9 – REMEMBER TO KEEP THE WAX CAPPINGS – I put the wet frames and cappings back on the hive and amazingly they were dry within a few days.

Wet Wax Cappings For The Bees

Wet Wax Cappings For The Bees

This video shows how dry they were:

Bee Update

In brief – the Queens are now marked (unbelievable I know), the varroa counts are low, the colonies are healthy and currently have Apiguard on top.

All the notes on the number of frames of bees, amount of brood and stores, feeding and treatments are detailed in my hive records. These include photos and videos.

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  • If this post is the alternative guide to harvesting, I have written a more traditional guide here: Harvesting Honey

Comments

It’s A Sticky Business — 7 Comments

  1. Nice one Roger – how much for a Jar (considering they must have got some of their nectar from our veggies (and thank you for their input!)).
    It all looks very complicated – and as an Engineer I like that sort of thing :-)
    Cheers
    Chris and Sue

    • Thanks Chris. Hopefully we will all have more fruit and veg due to the bees. A jar is definitely coming your way as a thanks for all that mowing on the allotment.

  2. Congratulations – a great harvest. Those frames are so full – your bees really drew out the comb for maximum honey storage. Pat them all on the back for a job well done.

    I can’t believe you started extracting at 7:30 PM. I had to re-read thinking you must have meant AM. Extraction is a slow business – and then there’s the clean-up. I’ve done all my extraction outside so any sticky mess remains in the grass. I know people say the bees pester them if they try that but I’ve never had more than 10 or so bees bugging me and that’s a lot easier to deal with than honey vapour clinging to every surface of a room.

    • Thanks Laura. Once I’d put the supers on the kitchen floor it had to be done straight away. Next time, I’ll definitely do it at the weekend, put some canvas sheeting on the floor and use the lid on the extractor (I didn’t realise how much honey vapour would be produced and the lid seemed like an optional extra at the time).

  3. Pingback: Swarms Alive - KM035

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