What a joyful time extracting my honey crop.
On Friday, I helped Dad with his hive, removing the honey supers. What a palava – his top cover broke, so bees were able to get into the supers, he had taken an unfilled box off, and had it covered up on the driveway, and there were bees for africa – poor Mum was too afraid to venture outside that day. We solved the problem by this manner:
- I would lever a frame out, and shake it free-ish of bees.
- D would take the frame, and toddle down the yard to Dad.
- Dad would brush the remaining bees off with an old paintbrush, and quickly drop it into a wheely bin.
- We then repeated said process 30 times.
I was stung 4 times, and Dad got one through a sock. Dad had the smoker, but there were so many bees everywhere, he didn’t know where to point the thing.
My hive was a dream – the escape board worked perfectly, with only a half dozen bees in the three boxes.
On the Sunday, we set up the steam knife, which is attached to a pressure cooker. The cappings were collected in a stainless steel mesh, over a sink. Any honey which is in the cappings slowly drips through the mesh, and into the bucket under the sink. Remember to put a bucket under the sink.
The little guy, A, calls the process ‘stracting. He could just turn the handle on the extractor, when standing on tippy toes. Very cute.
With two people slicing off the cappings, and one person spinning the extractor, we got into a well optimized rhythm, and extracted two hives (mine and Dads) not long after lunch. The combs going into the basket in the extractor have to be about the same size, or else a fearful wobble and shake gets set up – too much shaking may induce the borer in the support timbers to stop holding hands, and then we would be in sticky trouble.
No stings this day, and we extracted 40.2Kg from my hive, and about 35Kg from Dads, with an extra 7.8Kg from the cappings. That is a lot of honey. Some things I learned from the occasion:
- Don’t carry two supers at once. It hurts.
- Keep a bucket of warm water and some rags on hand, in order to de-sticky yourself.
- The look on a child’s face upon sampling honey running from the extractor is priceless.
- Keep the door shut, or bees will find it very, very, quickly.
- Having a bunch of blokes all helping makes the time fly very quickly, and it is a very masculine activity, a combination of hunting and gathering and husbandry of the hive.
This is certainly a great highlight of the beekeeping calendar, anticipated and earned with each sting during the year.
Next on the agenda will be treatment for Varroa mite, in preparation for wintering. I will be trending down an organic path, more details to follow.
Photo credits to Beloved – the only one unsticky enough to operate a smart phone safely.