If you recall my adventures in removing the honey supers last year, you know it was a complete debacle with many, many casualties. This year, I had a plan to try the fume boards again with some notable adjustments to the technique after considerable thought:
1. Remove the queen excluders.
2. Go through the honey frames and remove any overly curvaceous frames which may otherwise block the bees’ retreat.
3. Place an empty hive body (with frames) below the lowest honey super to be extracted. This provides the bees with an empty place to actually move into, otherwise all of those bees would be trying to crowd down into an already crowded brood box.
I had everything ready, extra hive bodies, the sprayed fume board. And in the end, we ended up just brushing them off the frames. It was quite efficient and the bees were not even irritated. My husband would remove the frames, shake and then brush any straggling, I’d take the bee-free frame and quickly place it in an empty hive body and cover it up. After getting what was capped, we left a few frames that still needed to be capped and went through the top deeps. I only did this because I knew there were capped frames from the spring flow and the deeps were chock-full of food. We removed 2 deep frames from each hive. I also had 3 frames in the freezer from earlier inspections which I had set out to defrost with a fan to prevent condensation on the wax.
Once the frames were inside, we had the filters on the honey bucket, extra buckets, towels, etc. all ready to go. We only have the one cappings scratcher and despite feeling like the process was going to take all day, we were actually done in less than 2 hours! We weighed the buckets (which I had labeled with the bucket weight so we could have a more accurate weight measurement) and it came to a total of 88lbs of honey. Then the tedious work began. I then took the cappings bucket, which was filled with honey and wax, and proceeded to scrape it into a sieve set over an empty bucket; placed the sieve and bucket in a warm oven (via lightbulb only) and let the honey drip out slowly. After the honey drained out of the cappings, I took the wax and rinsed it in water. Then I scooped out the wax and let it air dry and would filter the honey-water (from the rinsing) and store it in the fridge to feed back to the bees. I did this with each batch of cappings (4x in total I think) and by the end of it, I had managed to reclaim 7 pounds of honey from the cappings!!! My husband couldn’t believe it. So this brings the total to 95lbs of honey which is about the same as last year.
I started labeling the jars, another tedious job, but necessary! Our club sells members’ honey at 2 events: the 4H fair and the Westminster Fallfest. The 4H fair is coming up next weekend and I plan to sell some of my honey there as it’s a multi-day affair. The Fallfest is only a one-day festival. The vast majority I actually sell to neighbors and friends. I’ve nixed the nice Victorian square jars I like so much in favor of traditional queenline jars. But I still found black lids to use for these as I really like the way black looks with the honey and the label. For the Victorian square jars that remain, I’ll use them for chunk honey as suggested by my friend Brad. And only sell to those who will return them to me!
FYI: I weighed the medium and deep frames before and after harvesting: the medium yielded 5lbs of honey and the deep yielded 7lbs of honey. These were evenly drawn frames, not bulging but drawn and capped nicely from end to end. The mediums yielded more than I expected and the deeps yielded less. I found this very interesting and will give me an answer for a VERY common question in beekeeping.