November 10, 2012 – Late Extraction

We only had one good hive this summer, and for one reason or another, didn’t get around to extracting it until today.

We put the  supers in the back of a car and parked it in the sun to help the honey warm up even more.  It wasn’t enough and still had to hear up the frames to extract.

The yield from one five gallon bucket.

The top of one of the buckets.  We ended up with three 5 gallon buckets about 3/4 full each.  Now we’re set for soap and honey for a while!

August 5, 2012 – The Rain was Nice, the Wind, not to Much…

Yesterday’s rain was welcome, but for this beehive, it was a bit much.

This is our most productive and hive with the most supers on it. It’s at another farm and it was, shall we say, a bit delicate to put a hive back in place section by section. We took four supers that were full away, left the bottom few on and put an empty super on top.  Needless to say it was a bit frightening to put this all back together with the hiving buzzing around, looking for a home.  I brought a trailer along, and with the four supers we brought home, most of the bees blew off the 70 mph trip home.  then we needed to secure the honey in a location that was airtight, so the remaining bees and any other neighborhood hives didn’t steal the frames – so, we pried the frames loose and put them all in giant coolers until we are ready to extract.

September 24, 2011 – A Sweet Day

Today was  honey extraction day.  As GJ says, it’s all about separation today.  First, you separate the supers from the hive and therefore separate the bees from their honey.  Then you separate the individual frames from the supers.

Then you separate the beeswax from the frames.  Emma with the heated knife and gj with a wax scraper.

Then you separate the honey from the frames in the extractor.

Then you filter out all the bee parts and remaining wax from the honey.

A final look at Emma with a nice frame.  We ended up with about 15 gallons of honey from two hives.  Shortly after the aerial jockeys sprayed around our farm, the hive at our place ha greatly reduced activity.  After the bees died, the wax moths took over and there was no honey – but the two hives at another location adjacent to about 15 acres of prairie, did very well.

one year ago…”U of M Public Relations Disaster”

July 31, 2011 – Bees Gone Wild

We have a couple of beehives at a friend’s farm. The hives are at the edge of a woodlot adjacent to about a 20 acres of prairie. Lots of flowers and pollen out there.

beekeeper next to hive boxes

Today we went and checked, and had to add some more supers to the hives. They’re almost as tall as Linda. Should be a good year for honey, even if it isn’t a good year to get all dressed up in a bee suit.

one year ago…”In Theory”

April 29, 2011 – Bees at Work

Bees are fascinating little creatures.  They are no doubt among the happiest creatures that spring has finally sprung.

bee pollen sac on daffodil

Here’s a bee gathering pollen from a daffodil.  Notice the little yellow sacs on its legs where it collects the pollen.

bee pollen sac

Here’s more of a close-up which shows the sacs a little better. The pollen is the protein that makes the hive hum.

bee on plum flower

There’s also busy on the first flowering tree, this plum.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #206″

September 20, 2010 – Honey Extraction Day

Today was a big day at high hopes – honey extraction day! It was a rough year for beekeeping. We have three hives. Two of the hives were new this spring, so first year’s don’t often produce to much as they have to get organized and numbers bred up. The other hive swarmed, so lost some worker bees as well. Then, with the wet weather, it was hard for the bees to get out.

I missed Linda retrieving the supers from the hive – but here they are in the back of Sube. The idea is to get the supers during the day when many of the bees are out foraging. Then, you need to protect the stolen supers from the hive as they will try to retrieve the honey and the supers will be surrounded by an angry swarm. So, they are locked in the back of the car.

remove honey frames

Extracting is best done in a hot environment. The high today was 90 degrees, so the honey was warm and would flow easily. In addition, I turned on the propane heater in the garage to keep it warm after the sun went down. Since the garage is not bee proof, we wait until after dark and the bees are all back in the hive after sunset. Here Linda removes some frames from the supers. (No we are not on the payroll of the Ely, MN chamber as the car bumper sticker and Linda’s shirt may suggest.)

honey frame

Here’s a blue-ribbon frame – full and robust.

uncapping honey

Worth its weight in gold is the electric uncapping knife to slice off the wax caps from the comb.

Here’s a really angry-looking guy spinning the manual extractor. The spinning of the extractor slings the honey out of the frames. Spin for a bit and them turn the frames around and spin again.  He must have known that the next morning would bring aches of muscles usually not used!

Martin guards the honey gate at the bottom of the extractor.

The honey filters through three filters – a coarse mesh filter and a finely-woven fabric supported by another metal filter.

Finally, the honey safely tucked in jars. We ended up with about 10 gallons in total! The honey this year was very amber. That color is not what is typically is commercially available, despite the fact that dark amber honey has up to 20 times the anti-oxidants of run-of-the-mill commercial light honey.

one year ago…”Inaugural Chicken Butchering”

July 3, 2010 – Bee Swarm

Although there’s never a good time for a bee swarm, the day they swarmed was a particularly bad time.  We were running late getting flower and fruit orders out the door, running behind on starting to put the last 50 chickens to rest, and about to head to town to pick up the kids.  We had about 5 minutes together to deal with this.

We set up a hive, got a box to catch the bees as they dropped after cutting the branch.

We misjudged the size of the branch/swarm/box and when they fell, most of them missed the box.  I had to head to town, and they reformed even higher up a tree and while Linda waited for me to return to figure out the best way to get the next branch cut, they flew away a few minutes before I got back home with the kids.  It’s always disappointing to miss a chance at a “free” hive, but maybe next time we’ll have better luck!

one year ago…”Girls State”

May 11, 2010 – Spring Bee Renewal

The spring beekeeping tasks are at hand.  Two of the three hives needed to be rejuvenated this spring. So two hives have new queens.

The new queens were put in the hives in mid-late April and now it’s time to check on how the hive is doing.  The smoker is ready in anticipation of opening the hive.

beehive and smoker

They are all off to a good start – with more brood cells and great hive activity – so the queens stuck around and are laying eggs.

one year ago…”Ship Harbor, Acadia National Park”

March 15, 2010 – Checking the Beehive

Now that the temps have warmed to the 50’s, it’s time to make sure the bees have enough honey left in the hive to sustain them until the first blooming commences.

Linda is taking over the beekeeping this year.

We were happy to see that this hive was still active after the winter.  Today the black cover came off the hive and the honey supply looked adequate to keep them going.

one year ago…”Prunings”

November 29, 2009 – Putting Bees Away for Winter

It’s time to tuck the bees in for the winter.  By the end of this week, the highs are supposed to be in the 20s.

Martin and Linda add the insulated cover to the hive.

Here, they pose after finishing the job – the black cardboard has been slipped over the hive and we wait until spring to do anything else with the bees.

one year ago…”Gift Box Assembly”

March 29, 2009 – Beekeeper Martin

Martin and GJ brought their beekeeping show on the road this Sunday.  They brought some of the equipment to Martin’s Sunday School class and did a beekeeping demo.

Here the kids keep clear as they are not convinced that the beehive is truly free of bees while Martin and GJ have their suits on to open the hive.

one year ago…”Baby Goat”

March 13, 2009 – Getting Bees Ready for Spring

Another sign of spring is removing the winter protection from the bees.

Here the black cardboard box that slides over the hive is removed.  The black helps warm up the hive whenever the winter sun comes out.  It is rather amazing to think of the bees surviving through the -20 lows and long cold days in the hive.

Now that the temps are in the 60’s and 70’s some days, but the flowers are not yet out, the bees are out and about and here they get a dose of sugar water to tide them over and some mite protection.

Finally, a check to see if the queen is still alive and all we have to do now is wait for the spring pollen and flowers to arrive.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #109″

August 30, 2008 – Honey Extraction

Today was honey extraction day.

Martin, GJ, and Linda donned their beekeeper’s suits and robbed the honey.  Here Martin helps smoke out the bees before GJ takes off a super.

A beautiful frame full of honey.

The newest addition to the honey extraction process is an electric uncapping knife – it worked spendidly removing the wax tops from the frames.

Emma shows off an uncapped frame, ready for the extractor.

We use a manual extractor, just put in four frames and turn the hand crank, wait for it to stop spinning, flip the frames around and repeat the spin.

Martin’s job is to run the honey gate at the bottom of the extractor to filter the honey through a couple of filters.  It’s always a hot job as the room should be 85-95 degrees to allow the honey to flow more freely through the extraction process.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #86″