Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Capped Honey Frames

It had been a couple weeks since I'd been out to the bees and put the new brood chambers on. I wanted to see how dried up the country was and if there were still enough alfalfa blooms for the bees. What I found when I peeked inside was a couple boxes full of honey and though the brood chambers still felt light, probably because the bees hadn't worked out all the cells and made them ready for occupation, the honey supers were full. So I hurried home for a couple new boxes. Then when I returned I pulled off the full ones and slipped on the others. That was only on the hive on the left. The one on the right was the swarm that came in a little over a month ago into our back yard.

Some of you will remember this post.

The bees that had swarmed were doing well but due to new housing, it was a bit behind the established hive.
You know how it is after a move, it takes a while to put away all the dishes and things or for them to build out the cells and establish order.
Since the munchkins were soon due to arrive back at the house, I simply left the two boxes of capped honey that were covered in bees sitting next to the hive with the intent of coming back near nightfall and picking them up. The hope was that cool temperatures would drive the bees out of the boxes and into the hive. It didn't happen, since it never did cool down sufficiently before dark so plan B was to go out early the next morning.So at six I drove out and found the bees busily bringing in pollen. So much for cooler temperatures. Usually we are down into the 50's at night but of course not this night. So I was grateful that there were fewer bees since some were off foraging, there still were lots and lots. I began the task of brushing bees off each frame and walking it out a ways to where the truck sat. This brushing them off their food storage meant of course I angered a great many hard workers and the air was full of them out to find the one who was stealing their honey. The others had formed a traffic jam at their favorite entrance hole. That's the dark mass on the front of the hive.

Most just voiced their complaints and a few more stung catching in my clothing, but three stings penetrated where my arm and leg were bent. It would have been far worse had I not been wearing a veil and coveralls. I'm a bit swollen but the act of stinging rips the open the bees behind and they die. A much more dramatic fate. Not that that deters any of them from stinging.
I guess dead bees tell no tells.
This dark honey comb is part of a brood chamber frame. Where the eggs and pupae are the bees place pollen and honey nearby. The honey always appears much darker in these dark cells and the wax is quite dark also.
This is a honey frame. Note the really light wax and honey.
This is the top of a honey box and why the queen laid some eggs here is beyond me. I guess not enough bedrooms had been prepared for the eggs and she was couldn't cross her legs. You can see the pupae exposed where the top box pulled off the bottom box.

The hives sit next to a hay yard on the Buffalo Ranch, a holistic managed acreage that is slowly seeing a return to what the country once looked like when the bison roamed the plains.In this photo your looking at the sub-irrigated river bottom near the Belle Fourche River where they cut hay on a good year. To many of you our rivers would be a creek to you.On the way out a white-tail deer caused the nature lover in me to stop and watch her. The Buffalo Ranch has mule deer, white tail, and even a few elk.

*************************************************************************************One of the wood frames I pulled out to brush the bees off came all apart. I'll melt it down during the few days the kids will be at their dad's again and extract the honey. Usually, we use a centrifuge type honey extractor but this frame is in pieces and won't hold up in it. Besides, it was a great opportunity for the kids to taste a natural treat. When I was growing up, my own grandfather use to help out during the honey season with a commercial honey business and would occasionally bring home some honey comb for us grand kids to suck on. Yum, Yum!! Notice the wire in the comb. The frame comes with a narrow beginning wax comb that is reinforced with wire. The bees them build out on both sides.

Tomorrow, the garden, or is it my recipe for Special K bars. We'll just have to see.


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