Saturday, August 27, 2016

Shop Vacuuming Bees

Today we are recycling honeybees. It has been so warm that we have been waiting for a cool day to do this but we just don't want to wait anymore because workers can develop ovaries and start laying eggs. How can you tell if a worker is laying? You will find multiple eggs in cells. The problem with this is that these are unfertilized and will all become drones. The comb becomes drone comb and next year's queen will lay drone eggs in all the cells that became drone cells. We filled our shop vacuum half way with water, filled the generator with gas and when we are done will dump the dead bees in our compost because they are some of the best vermiculite in the world. Their soft organs become rich soil and their exoskeletons don't decompose as fast so they aerate soil beautifully. It is 53* here in downtown Fairbanks.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Harvesting Honey

Many folks started harvesting honey frames before last week's steady rain. If you haven't started taking honey, now is the time to remove any frames with completely capped honey cells. Honey frames can be stored at 60 - 70 * in a rubber maid tote with the lid cracked. What I like to do is go ahead and extract as much as I can to give the sticky frames back to the bees. They will consolidate the honey into cells in one area of the hive which gives you more to extract when you are ready. My queens will have been caged for three weeks this coming weekend and anytime after that I can rob what is left of the honey and extract it. Then I will give those frames back and about a week to ten days later I will shop-vacuum my bees to recycle them in my compost. This is a sad day however their soft body parts will make rich soil for next years garden and their exoskeletons will be the best organic vermiculite on Earth.

The bees are eating a lot of honey right now because of cooler temperatures and rainy days. They can eat multiple pounds of honey in a few days.
If you end up taking some frames with uncapped honey such as this frame to the left, you can let the honey evaporate for a couple weeks and it will become the correct thickness which decreases the speed of sugaring. When honey is not the correct moisture content, it tends to crystallize much quicker. The proper moisture content is 17% - 18%.

Some frames will have honey in the corners after all the brood has hatched out. These can be extracted as well. Some beekeepers keep two of the brood frames with honey to insulate next year's colony instead of using foam insulated follower frames.

It is important to keep the boxes full of frames after they have been removed from the hive so the bees don't create burr comb in the empty space.

If you don't have extra frames to replace the removed honey frames then you may want to extract in the next day or so and get the sticky frames back into the hive as soon as possible.