Ok, my apologies for the lolcat-speak.
Nonetheless, we do have honey! We successfully robbed the bees today. :)
We got one full super of capped honey, one super of dubiously ready honey, and most of another super of capped; with the latter, the girls were exceedingly pissed off as soon as we started smoking them, so we removed 8 frames and left the other 2, and the super and excluder, in place. (This was Mary. Liz was actually pretty mellow- she got pissed off and buzzed loudly, but wasn’t to the dive-bombing point. Susan was OK with us removing the super; it wasn’t like she’d spent much effort on doing anything in it! But Mary- the third hive we worked- was stroppy from the get-go. She may have noted that we were robbing the other ones, and so was quick to take offense.)
So. We still need to remove the other 2 frames and the super from Mary. We also need to check out the condition and levels of stores in the hive bodies of all 3 hives. Since the weather this week is supposed to be decent, I’m hoping we can do a hive a night- maybe starting with Mary on Tuesday.
Meanwhile: we plan on putting a frame or 2 a day of partially-ready honey outside, and let the girls rob them. They can use the stores, and if the honey isn’t capped, it’s not concentrated enough to keep for us, anyway. This will also empty some drawn comb cells of honey, and we’ll be able to use those frames to entice honey production next year.
Next year we’ll put the bee-o-paks on sooner, with a super with drawn comb above them, and we’ll use some of the excess beeswax we have to smear in the bee-o-pac cells; this ought to entice the girls into drawing comb and filling the bee-o-pacs. These are a pretty cool way to create and distribute comb honey… if we can get the girls to cooperate, of course!
Meanwhile, I’ve been browsing the Betterbee catalog. So much cool stuff! We need to make some decisions as to how many hives we want to run next year; if we want to have more, we may want to order bees… or we may just want to have enough equipment that we can split a hive or 2. Or some mix of these approaches… Also, we need to decide if an additional hive will be a top-bar or not; if so, we need to start building the equipment; if not, we need to have an ordering plan for conventional equipment. Betterbee has some 8-frame hives that look interesting, since full they’d be 20% lighter and thus easier for us to manage…
Also we need to make some decisions on whether we’re interested in extracted honey or not. If we want to do extracted, we need to plan for it, and plan on getting the necessary equipment. Now, Betterbee has an extractor that’s designed to work with top-bar hives (which are more fragile than ones built on plastic foundation), plus it’s a lot more compact than other extracting systems. I’m really tempted by this, for both reasons; I think it’d give us the option of doing extracted, without requiring as much preplanning. Plus- easier to store is good!
The most recent honey the girls have made is very dark and rich-looking. I think that’s the goldenrod they’ve been harvesting.
I did get some pictures today, between helping with the hives. I’ll try to get them, and previous pics, posted in the next few days.
On a personal note- I did enjoy working the bees today- until Mary started menacing me, anyway! I need a proper bee suit. (Unfortunately, no one seems to make bee suits for female-type persons; I am planning on getting a pullover-type jacket, and making or buying pull-on pants in white.) I can see that the longer I go between working with the girls, the more nervous I get about it. So this means that I need to do it more often, and not let the nervousness accumulate. I mean- Mary was definitely VERY pissed off today- it’s not like hearing the buzz of a pissed-off hive is subject to misinterpretation!- but still, she did dive-bomb Justin, and me to a lesser extent, but neither of us got stung. While they do make me nervous- objectively, they are all pretty mellow girls. I just need to work with them more.
While we tried to get all bees off the frames we robbed- a few did make it into the studio despite our efforts. Justin spent considerable effort coaxing them into his hands, then releasing them outside so they could return to their sisters. Awww. They really are cute little things. :)