Monday, January 11, 2016

Honey extraction and uncapping experiments

After the swarming activity this week, it was time to pull some honey from the hives.  I believe the bees were becoming concerned with the packed honey supers and felt they needed more space ... thus the swarming.  The solution is to pull some honey and put empty frames in the hive giving them room to expand without having to move to new digs.

I really should have done this in November but there were too many things on the "to do list" and before I knew it, 2016 had arrived.  But I don't feel it matters with the weather we've been having as long as you leave the bees plenty of honey which I did.  The downside of pulling the honey this week was it caused a bit of a robbing frenzy among the hives.  It turns into a big free for all among the bees with all the honey smell in the air and it gets kind of crazy.  No big deal as they calm down a few hours after you button things back up.  I try to pull the frames as quickly and efficiently as possible to minimize the stress of the bees.

Also while in the hives I removed all the "penthouse" covers and replaced them with more traditional screened inner hive covers until I can transition to migratory covers.  The extra ventilation idea just wasn't as beneficial to the bees as expected.  Especially since they would seal up the ventilation screens with propolis.
Poolside honey extraction with Maxant motorized extractor

After pulling the frames, we brought them home to uncap and extract.  This time we tried a different uncapping method (unsuccessful) using an uncapping roller which just made a bigger mess, more work, and mutilated comb.  The frames that were uncapped with the roller needed to be extracted several times to get all the honey.  A real pain.  So finally we went back to uncapping with a bread knife which is also a pretty sad tool to uncap with.  Next time we will have a hot uncapping knife like most beekeepers use.  Another good lesson.

The extraction went well and we ended up with a nice amount of delicious honey.  The flavor is amazing.

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