Beemused: A Blog

Robbing the Bees: Honey Harvest Photos

6th October 2007

Robbing the Bees: Honey Harvest Photos

posted in Our Hives |

Some pictures from our recent adventures:
Susan: The comb-adorned bee excluderThis is a bee excuder, designed to use Bee Psychology to allow bees to leave the supers- the place where they store the excess honey we plan to harvest- but not return. It is based on various Known Truths about what bees choose to do in given situations- rather like a maze- and works reasonably well. Other alternatives to removing bees from supers are large noisy blowers which are fast and work but are loud and also piss off the bees, and stinky chemicals which we decided we could avoid. We’re hobbyists, so the fact that the excluder plan works relatively slowly- over a day at least- is not really a problem for us. As it happened, based on weather and other things, we left the excluder in for a couple of weeks- so the girls had lots of time to adorn it. You can see them there sucking up the honey they’d put in the comb they’d built on it.

Susan, with super and excluder removedHere you see Susan, after we’d taken off her excluder and her honey super. She’s our least productive hive, but that’s just in comparison to her “sisters”; she’d done what we’d been expecting each hive to do, but Liz and Mary were exceedingly productive! You can see that the girls were gathering the honey from the bur comb they’d created between the top of the hive frames and the excluder. That’s why there are so many visible up on top. Even though they didn’t produce the honey the other 2 hives did, they’re clearly a successful hive.

Mary, getting smoked before venturing inHere you see Justin, in full beekeeper regalia, smoking the Mary hive. Our fancy bottom boards have a closing hole designed so a beekeepercan open it and smoke the hive before messing with it. Usually, this mellows out the bees; for one thing, they start to thinl “OMG! FIRE!!1!eleventy-one!” and so start quaffing honey rather than looking to sting (and a full be is a contented bee); for another, the smoke smell covers up the alarm pheromones, so they don’t get on guard against bears and other hazards. (Steven Colbert’s vendetta against bears is as nothing to that of the bees!). However, Mary was atypical here: at the first hint of smoke, she got well and truly pissed off. And so we harvested 8 of her 10 honey frames, and left the other 2, and the super and the excluder in place. We will probably brave her wrath and get those tomorrow.

Each full honey frame seems to hold about 3.5 pounds of honey- so we got some decent stuff here! We’re quite pleased, sine we were not sure how well out neighborhood would support hives, plus we got a really late start. We’re giving partially-filled frames back to the girls, so they can add the contents to their winter stores. We’re also feeding them again, to make sure they’ve got enough to overwinter

Tomorrow, we hope to get the rest of the supering stuff off Mary, and also to examine the hive bodies as much as we can manage. We need to see how their stores are, and whether or not there are any other problems we should address before winter.


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This entry was posted on Saturday, October 6th, 2007 at 6:33 pm and is filed under Our Hives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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