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Harvest Day!

Comb honey.

Comb honey.

The hard work of the ladies paid off! We now have 66 pounds (5.5 gallons, as a gallon weighs roughly 12 pounds) of honey in our pantry. And, he pulled 4 containers of comb honey, for those who like to extract the honey from the mouth.

Screening the newly harvested honey.

Screening the newly harvested honey.

Sunday morning we high-tailed it to the hives and pulled off the honey supers. Sounds easy enough, but more time-consuming than one may think. Each frame (there’s nine in each honey super) had to be pulled out and the bees removed. We do this by giving the frame a hefty ‘tap’ on a board placed in front of the hive. Then one of us uses a brush to swipe off the remaining bees. Finally, we deposit the frame in a Rubbermaid container and quickly put the lid back on before bees get in. The bees aren’t exactly thrilled when we take their honey. Okay, one frame done, 62 more to go… Unfortunately, Thor had 18 frames that had brood mixed in the honey (grumble). Sooo, now there are two supers with those frames still sitting out on the Thor. Very soon we need to get out there, chase all the bees down and put a queen excluder under the supers. Within the next 10 days bees will emerge from that brood and then we can harvest any remaining honey. Note To Self: In 2013, all hives have queen excluders!

Mark manning the extractor.

Mark manning the extractor.

Loaded honey extractor.

Loaded honey extractor.

Ultimately, we ended up with 32 of the frames of honey and 12 frames that had lots of wax, but our guess is that with all the dry weather, the bees couldn’t find enough nectar to bring in and fill those frames. We thought we might harvest closer to 100 pounds, but we’re happy with what we have. It’s about three-times our 2011 yield.

Hot knives.

Hot knives.

Today we extracted the honey. This involves wielding electric (hot!) knives to uncap, or remove the wax no top of the honey. Then six frames are loaded into what could be best described as a big centrifuge. Honey is spun out, then we reverse the frames and spin some more. Viola! lots of honey at the bottom of the extractor. We open a bottom valve and drain the honey through a screen, to filter out bits of wax and other stuff.

And then we spend what feel like hours and hours washing and scrubbing everything as we’re both stick-o-potamuses with honey *everywhere*.

Bee beard ... bees making their way back into the hive after we pulled the honey supers off the top.

Bee beard … bees making their way back into the hive after we pulled the honey supers off the top.

Yah, I know you’re dying to know – – no stings! No stings at all! Two dozen bees made it into the Rubbermaid tubs and were ‘put to sleep’ today before any could voice their opinions on the our honey thievery.

Ah! Too many mites!

Ah! Too many mites!

We did have one harsh reality check. Looks like we have a significant infestation of mites in our hives. Hopefully we can get hold of some Apiguard (sold out in the US right now – more on the way from England) very soon and start treating.

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About Idiots Keeping Bees

We're always looking for new adventures, and well, learning about beekeeping seemed like a good idea. We had one hive in 2011, and we've increased since then Our goal is 10ish colonies, but we haven't hit our mark quite yet. We've found talking with other beekeepers to be invaluable, so we're starting this blog to keep long-distance conversations rolling throughout the year. If we can figure out beekeeping, so can you!

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