Saturday, September 20, 2014

End of the Season Tips

I haven't posted in a while because I've been busy with student teaching, extracting and bottling honey, not to mention going to the market the past few Saturdays. This was really a terrible year overall. It started out great but when the rain stayed most of the summer, on nice days, our bees foraged for miles to find all the pollen and nectar washed away. Next year has got to be better! For  rookie beekeepers, just count it a building year when your bees were bought to build comb for next years bees.

We got about 17 gallons (204 lbs.) of honey from 7 colonies. I was expecting about 70 gallons (870 lbs.)
If you are not wintering over your bees it is time to shop-vac them!

Killing Bees:
What I do, after all the sticky frames that I've extracted are "cleaned up" by my bees, is put water in my shop vac on a cold morning or evening. The cold keeps the bees from flying away from their cluster so it's easier to suck more of them into the vacuum in a shorter amount of time. If it's warm they will be flying all around and you won't get them all. This Sunday is the day I will do this dreadful deed and it puts a depressing spin on my day. For hives that are not close to power I just bring a small generator. After the bees are dead in the shop-vac, I dump them into my compost. If you don't clean them out of the shop vac the first night just cover the end of the vacuum hose with duct tape to ensure none fly back out.

Storing Your Equipment:
I store my equipment outside on top of a queen excluder to keep the mice from getting into my boxes and eating the comb. I also take the inner lid off the hive to keep other insects out of the hive.
Equipment that is stored inside has the potential to get mildew and mold. You can either clean up your hives now or wait until Jan. when its dark and cold and you need an indoor project. That's what we do. We put on some good tunes, drag the hives into the garage and clean everything up with our hive tools. We never use soap or cleaners of any kind. We just scrape off wax where it shouldn't exist.

Do you have questions? Email me any questions at


  1. I also got about 2.5 gallons of honey per hive this year.

  2. Hoping for a better season next year, Jeff!!