Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bumper Crop

Well, I see that I haven't posted anything in this blog since June 11th.  I have had a very busy summer and haven't had time to keep up very well.  Besides neglecting the blog I feel like I have neglected the bees as well.  But, as you will see the bees have taken care of themselves.

We had a very mild winter, and spring started early this year.  The alfalfa, which is our main nectar source, blossomed a full three weeks early, but the majority of the fields within a couple miles of our house did not get cut any earlier than they usually do.  This gave the bees a huge extended nectar flow.  In fact, I ended up putting four supers on both Ida and Georgia and ran out of supers by the end of June.  I extracted two supers full and got 70 lbs (about 6 gallons) so I would have some supers to put back on the hives.

That is when things got really busy, and I rarely got back out to check the bees.  But about three weeks ago I did get out and quickly checked Svetlana, that is the new hive from the package of Russian hybrids I installed in April.  She had had one super on her for quite some time and had hardly touched it.  All the frames were still empty.  I decided that, when I had time, I would take the honey from her deep hive bodies and let her die out over the winter.  I would then be able to split one of the other hives next spring and put them in Svetlana's hive.  However, this last weekend I went out to pull her deep frames and found that she had almost completely filled in the entire super.  I decided to leave her alone and let the bees continue with their work.  I guess when they decided to get after it they really got after it.

Since we are getting close to the end of August I went out today to check the supers and get an idea of how much honey we might get and to decide how long to wait before we harvest.  It was amazing how gentle the bees were- I went through all nine supers with no smoke, and they did not get upset at all.  Here is a picture of one of the frames out of Ida.  This is what I like to see- a nice fat frame of honey all capped and ready for extraction.
Almost all of the frames in the hives looked just like this.  I think that six of the supers could be extracted right now.  The other three are probably 75% full and capped.  I will give them a couple more weeks and plan on taking their honey sometime in the first week of September.

Wow- nine supers!  That could mean up to twenty-seven gallons of honey this fall plus the two we extracted in June.  This has definitely been a bumper year.  Our biggest year until now has been just seventeen gallons.  A new record for the Robertson bees!

If you have ever wondered what happens to a hive when the beekeeper doesn't stay on top of things and keep the burr comb cleaned out you can just look here.
 The bees had built so much extra comb and stuck everything together so well that it was really difficult to pry the supers apart.  It is amazing how strong bees wax can be.

After prying the supers apart and exposing all the honey that had been stored between the frames, some of the bees come out for a little snack.

I took a little snack for myself and the family, too.  Good stuff!


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