Here is a frame full of capped cells containing ripened honey. It is now time to remove the bees from the upper supers so that we can harvest this honey.
To remove the bees, we will use a bee escape. This is inserted below the upper supers. The bees can go down to their home in the lower supers, but cannot return to the upper supers where our honey is. This is the underside of the bee escape. The bees will come down through the orange tubes.
This is the upper side of the bee escape. The bees will enter in the little notches in the center.
Jeff has removed the upper supers which still have bees in them and placed them on the left in the photo. He is placing the bee escape over the lower supers.
Now Jeff replaces the upper supers one at a time. Once the bees leave the honey supers when they are done storing honey, and return to the lower parts of the hive, they will not be able to go back "upstairs" again.
It takes one to two days for the bees to leave the upper supers. Any bees that remain are gently brushed away with the bee brush when we remove the upper supers.
This machine is a honey extractor. Jeff is holding the center part. Once he puts it into the extractor, he can put the honey frames inside to spin out the honey.
First, though, Jeff must remove the wax cappings which seal the honey in the cells. To do this, he uses an electric knife which heats up and melts the wax cappings effortlessly.
The wax cappings are collected in a strainer, and the honey left in them will drain into the collection bucket. People say that the honey from the cappings is the sweetest of all.
Jeff is inserting the uncapped frame into the extractor. He can extract honey from three frames at a time. There are nine frames in each honey super. On a typical hive, there can be seven honey supers. It would take a lot of time for us to extract that many frames!
But our hives didn't produce very much honey this year, so it won't be that big of a project for Jeff.
Jeff turns the crank which spins out the honey. Halfway through, he will reverse the frames to be sure the honey is spun out from the opposite side. (The extractor doesn't go backwards.)
Liquid gold! This year's honey has a more floral taste than our last harvest, which was more lemony in flavor. This year's honey is also quite a bit lighter in color.
We harvested 40 bottles from two hives. Our previous harvest was 175 bottles from one hive. This obviously was not a good year for our honeybees... but commercial beekeepers are having similar troubles.
We will try again next year!
Thank you for visiting our beehive updates! We hope you have enjoyed them and have learned a little about the fun hobby of keeping bees!
(Jeff was gone week four.)