Honey Harvest

At our last few mentoring sessions over at Craig’s we have been focusing on the honey harvest.  This will forever be known as the time of year when the bees are exceptionally angry despite our best efforts to sedate them with smoke and Bee Go (a horrifically stinky compound that drives bees down the hive and away from the frames that will be harvested).  Yes, my ankles have been mercilessly injected with venom which is not so bad except for an intense desire to scratch at 2am in the morning!

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Frames (very heavy) full of honey over at Craig’s.

The basic drill is to go through the hive and select frames (not from the brood boxes) with honey that have a capped area of at least 70%.  Selecting frames with capped honey is important because it is ripe as opposed to the uncapped, green honey.  By ripe, I am referring to moisture content.  Bees gather nectar from flowers and bring it back to the hive.  They swallow and regurgitate the nectar over a  span of about two weeks until it becomes a thickened liquid.  The bees continue to lower the moisture content by fanning the thickened liquid with their wings to create the final sterile product (honey) which has only 19% water.  Unfortunately some beekeepers take shortcuts and harvest green honey only to adulterate it by various nefarious methods so that it looks, feels and tastes like genuine honey.  This is a huge disservice to the bees and to the bounty that they have worked tirelessly to create.

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Craig and Worth moving the bees along.

With 10 frames bursting with ripe honey, Craig demonstrates his leaf blower method to quickly and effectively move along the remaining stragglers.  We place the hives on the back of Craig’s pickup as these will be transported to his extracting workshop.  The work is heavy and the boxes are cumbersome so it is a two man job to handle the move.  My back is aching and I am sure my arms have grown by two inches.  I am thinking… the hives will have to be off-loaded as well… Worth and I will definitely be investing in some smaller frames and boxes.

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While these ones are resting, the bee yard has a gazillion bees flying around!  About 500 are on the back of Worth’s suit.

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While removing the frames for extraction, we also do a hive inspection.

 

Mean while, back at the Ranch our furry friends are still visiting frequently.  Worth set the trail cam to get some short video footage.

 

At the bottom right side of the screen the bear is leaving the scene at a bit of a pace.  I wonder if he got a surprise from the electric fence?

 

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