Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cleaning Up The Supers

Last weekend I posted about this years honey harvest. Today I will just comment on how we cleaned up the supers.

After extracting the honey the supers were still "wet". That is to say that the comb on the frames was still covered in honey- not enough to extract, but there was still enough to make everything sticky if it were left that way through the winter. Since bees love honey it made sense to let the bees clean it up.

A couple of days after extracting I took the supers out and put them back on the hives. This time, though, I left the inner cover between the brood nest and the supers. I guess the inner cover creates a barrier between the colony and the supers so the bees don't think of the supers as actually part of the hive and don't start storing honey up there again. I did leave the queen excluders in place- I didn't want to leave any chance that the queens would move up into the supers again. Anyway, the workers were able to move up and down through the hole in the middle of the inner cover.

After 4 days I took the supers back off. I found that the bees had cleaned up all the honey and repaired the comb that had been damaged during uncapping and extracting. I also found that the supers were full of bees. I didn't want to go through each frame and brush off all the bees again. So I laid the supers on the ground about 5 feet from the hives and let them sit overnight. The next day all the bees had moved back into the hives, and I took the supers back in the house. All in all it was a very easy process.

Now I still had a sticky extractor and some sticky buckets left in the house. I took them out and laid them on their sides next to the hives. It didn't take long for the bees to be all over them licking up the honey. After a day or two all the equipment was cleaned up and ready to be stored for the winter.

I can't wait for next year to do it all over again!


Jim Davis said...

Sounds like your cleanup was very similar to ours. The only difference was I moved my extractor a couple hundred feet away from the hives when I let them clean it. In one website from a commercial producer, the manager suggested keeping them away from the hives to avoid encouraging robbing and fighting. I still found more than a dozen dead bees after it was all cleaned up, so I don't know if that discouraged fighting or not.
Enjoy your blog.

Robertson Family said...

Thanks Jim,
I have read the same about moving the extractor etc 100 feet away. Unfortunately, I do not have that option as my hives are in my backyard. I have actually let the bees clean up a lot of items right next to the hives. Thus far I have had no problems with robbing. I hope my luck holds up.

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