Bee update: Inspection and Harvest in One

It was supposed to rain early Sunday afternoon, so before lunch we headed out to inspect the hive in the backyard.  I didn’t want to disturb the girls too much, but I wanted to get a general feeling for how they were doing and (if we were so lucky) to grab a frame or two of honey depending on what they had stored.

The Hive

The girls were in a good mood when we opened the box in spite of the continued ant infestation and the presence of a few small hive beetles.  We pulled out some frames from the top super and found them about split – half capped honey, half uncapped.

Capped Frame of Honey

We picked three frames that were fully capped and put them aside for harvesting.  We replaced the three frames with empty frame of foundation.

Frames for Harvesting

We moved down a bit into the second super and it looked very similar to the one above with one exception – one frame appeared to contain brood on one side and honey on the other.  The capped cells may be drones as they were slightly raised.

Brood in the Honey Super

I have no clue as to why the queen would wander up this far, but it was slightly concerning, so we moved that super over and checked the brood chamber.  The top box in the brood chamber was as to be expected.  The brood patterns were fantastic – her royal majesty is filling up almost every cell on each frame.  We didn’t see anything out of the ordinary at all.

Brood Pattern

For kicks, we moved that box and pulled out a few frames in the bottom chamber.  Well, to my surprise, there are frames that haven’t even been drawn out yet!

Undrawn Foundation in Brood Chamber

I’m a bit confused by this and not quite sure how to handle it.  Maybe we added extra boxes to soon?  I suggested to Wayne that she may be working in the second box and feeling full, so she moved up?  Just in case, we grabbed three empty frames from the bottom box and switched them out with full frames from the second brood box.  I’m hoping the switch will encourage them to fill out the empty frames and give our fertile queen plenty of laying room.

We closed up quickly. The girls were patient, but not that patient and they were beginning to ping off our hoods.  We brushed the bees off the honey frames the best we could and carried them onto the deck.  We double checked each frame and found a few wayward bees before carrying the frames inside.

Wayne took a nap while I ventured into honey harvesting again.  It was the same process we described in this post; however, I was distressed to find out that hooked wire foundation is much more difficult to get off a frame.  Following Wayne’s suggestion, I ended up cutting the comb off the frame and leaving the wires intact.

I paid more attention this time and noticed that we again had two very different looking combs.  One was a deep dark color while the other was a light amber color.  I was still unsure as to whether that was two different types of honey, or just darker comb, so I endeavored to harvest them separately.

Dark Comb/Honey

Here’s the end result:

Honey Harvest

You can see that one honey looks slightly lighter than the other, but definitely not the color difference it appeared to be when we harvested it.  The comb, on the other hand, is remarkably different.  I plan to put the wax in two batches out in the solar wax melter next week when the rain here is supposed to stop and the sun returns.  I’ll try to take pictures after it has been cleaned and melted down to show how wildly different the colors are.

In the process of moving the frames inside, we had spilled a small amount of honey on the deck railing  (lesson learned: use a tupperware container or something with a bottom when carrying frames of honey).  The sugary sweetness was drawing quite a crowd of bees.

Deck Railing

Since the bees had already invaded our deck, I added a bucket with the empty frames (post harvest) for the bees to clean up as well.  At some point in the process Sparky decided that he was rather fond of honey and didn’t let the large quantity of bees stop him from getting his share.  He literally stood and licked the frames clean around the bees.

Sparky Fighting for his Share

He was out there for a good while before I heard a yelp and he came flying through the dog door.  Apparently one (or many) of the bees decided they had shared enough.

The harvest result this time?  16 8.5-ounce hex jars or 8.5 pounds of loveliness.  I imagine this will be the last time we harvest this year, so we plan to enjoy it.


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