Friday, October 7, 2011

Bee Warre! The Honey Harvest

On Tuesday, we harvested most of the honey. The Langstroth hives were  easy. We took off the top two supers and loaded them on the wagon, covered them with a wet sheet to prevent bees from trying to gather up the honey from the supers,  and moved them inside so no bees could get at them.

These, the two Warre hives, were a bit more of a challenge.
There is supposed to be a "quilt," a canvas barrier between the supers and the top, to keep the bees out of the hive cover.  My bees arrived earlier than expected last spring and I didn't have it constructed yet.  But before I could add it, the bees had already begun building comb in the top.  Rather than destroy the comb in the top, we decided to just leave it and deal with it later --at harvest. Without evenly spaced bars to encourage the bees to build in uniform rows, they built curving paths of comb just as they would have in the wild in a hollow tree.  Beautiful, but harder to collect.
We had to pry off  top and mess up some of the comb in doing so.  This is the hive top, with the missing pieces of comb from the above photo.
The only option was to  slice out sections of comb.
This method created a sticky honey mess that got the bees excited, so we had to work fast.  Our gloves, the hive tool and bee brushes, and my camera became covered in sticky honey. The risk was that bees from a neighboring hive would discover the honey and it would set off a frenzy of honey-robbing.
We brushed the bees off the comb with the soft bee brush and placed the  comb sections into tubs in the wagon.
Then we moved the tubs into the  summer kitchen with the Langstroth hives and left the lids slightly open so the remaining bees could escape.

We still have two supers to harvest from the Warre hives--we decided we had done enough damage for one day and we would wait a few days so the bees could clean up the sticky honey mess.  If it doesn't rain, we will harvest the rest this afternoon and Tom will show me how to use his equipment to extract the hony from the comb.
Afterwards, I ate a piece of the honeycomb - it was absolutely heavenly!
Thanks, dear bees.


gz said...

good to see healthy bees!
Have a read of this...

stonehead's writings are worth reading, and his research thorough

Sinz of my SmithGang said...


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Your bees certainly are industrious!

I'm less timid about adjusting irregular comb in my hives than when I started. I'd rather tidy up early on, because trying to manipulate comb that's going to get ripped up and cause havoc. I got tired of tearing up brood comb, and drowning bees in honey...

The Luddite said...

what lovely, willful comb-builders!