Sunday, July 06, 2008

Surprise Honey Harvest

We got up Saturday morning to go check on the beehives. We discussed the options just in case my busy bees had filled the super we placed there just 2 weeks ago. We had only one empty super left for both hives. Sure enough, when we opened it up, we found that the top super was fully drawn and mostly filled with nectar!

With three supers already installed, I was worried that if I placed a fourth I couldn't see down in to the top one, much less would I be able to lift it off, once it was filled. There was only one thing to do, go down and see if the lower supers had enough capped frames to harvest.

To our great surprise while we were off vacationing, the bees were home working hard the whole time and we found 18-1/2 out of 19 of the frames for the first two honey supers were already capped and looking great. We realized that we didn't even have the tractor nearby to haul the weight of those supers once we took them. I hustled back to the barn and hooked up the little John Deere trailer to the tractor and came up to the honey yard ready to haul it home. Becky restocked the smoker and waited for my return.

The removal went very well, and I'd say the bees were not too upset with us considering. We ended up using the blower method (leaf blower) to remove the last of the bees clinging to the frames, which worked very well.

Now we had to change our Saturday plans and work on the harvest of the 18 frames we removed. Here is one of those frames as Becky worked the heated knife on the wax cappings.

It was a long day, but we got it all done, bottled and cleaned up by 5PM. In all we harvested 65 lbs from this early summer harvest. Now we are still nubees at this and this is only our third year, but let's put this outstanding spring harvest in perspective. Last year we had one harvest in September from both hives and got a total of 34 lbs (not a good year). In 2006 we had only one hive and it was our first year, and they started a bit late in the spring. We harvested once in August (27.5 lbs) and again in September for a total of 48.5 lbs.

So realizing that we still have 2 months of production time left and that 2 more supers are well on their way to being filled now on each hive, we could have a very good year indeed. Here is a shot of a few bottles of this "Golden Harvest":

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