Honey Harvest

June 15, 2020
P. Michael Henderson

I hadn't looked inside the hives in a while (two months) so I started getting worried that the bees might be "honey bound" (have nowhere to store their incoming nectar) so I opened the hives on Sunday.  They had almost all of the frames in the supers filled and capped.  Oops, time to harvest honey.

I took 13 frames from each of two hives, 26 frames total.  They had more frames filled and capped but I couldn't handle any more frames.  I had to go get a dolly to carry the plastic box that I put the frames into.  I did them in two loads of 13 frames per trip.

Then I processed the frames by uncapping the cells and extracting the honey in my extractor.  I only have a two frame extractor but the major effort is the uncapping.  The extraction goes pretty quick.

When I finished extracting I had about 88 pounds of honey in two buckets.

Each of those buckets are full to the big ring on the bucket.  I strain the honey and the strainer sticks down into the bucket.  If I try to fill more than that the strainer would be in the honey.

I'll wholesale most of this to my beekeeping friend, Janet.  There are more full frames in the hives so I'll harvest that in a couple of weeks.  I'm trying to keep the hives from swarming by making sure they have lots of room to store nectar in the hive.

I put empty frames (just foundation) in the two hives to replace the frames that I took out.  I'm going to put the extracted frames in my new hive that has not started making honey in the supers yet.  The bees will probably just clean the residual honey out of the comb and not start storing honey in them yet.  If so, I may pull them out and put in frames with plastic foundation.

Overall, I'm beginning to switch to plastic foundation for both brood and honey - black foundation for brood and yellow for honey.  The bees seem to accept the plastic foundation well and it's straight and strong.  I had two frames blow out in the extractor today - both were wax foundation.

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6/27/2020 Last year I sold a hive to Elizabeth and shortly after we placed it in her yard, the hive swarmed.  This set the hive back as far as producing honey but this spring they've built back up and produced some nice honey.  I helped her harvest.  We took ten fully capped frames, even though there were a few more in the hive.  Here's Robbie (her husband) and Elizabeth uncapping the frames.

They got about 30 pounds of honey from the ten frames - and the honey was very light in color.  Nice honey.

We'll probably be able to do another harvest from her hive in the fall.  She has two supers on the hive so she'll have to keep an eye on the hive to make sure the hive doesn't get "honey bound".