We started with one bee hive last year after Blueberry season, bought off a local bee keeper. He gave us the bees, queen, two boxes, a queen extruder (never got used to them),one suit, smoker, hive tool and brush. It was a great starter kit.
This year we felt the need to expand, splitting the hive in early spring. It worked well enough but the original hive has turned from it’s lovely friendly self into a bit of a monster. They are aggressive and one or two will chase me to sting me if I am working in their area, but I steal honey from them so I guess I will adjust. We found earwigs in their cover so between that and the possibility of the ever present ants, that could explain their disgruntlement.
Based on the early spring split we don’t expect much in the way of honey this year. We are switching them onto foundation-less frames as well. Nothing like shaking their world up all at once.
After an early August inspection we came up with two frames of honey we could harvest, both from the new hive. The Island season seems to be running permanently one month behind what everyone expects so we are still hopeful for at least 4 more frames. That will double what we got last year and really, that would be a good return. If we let them settle next year we should be into the 9-10 frames per hive we are aiming for.
One frame was a full plastic foundation and the other was luckily one of the foundation-less ones. The plastic frame is simply scraped into a bowl, mashed and then strained overnight(well covered to keep our little fly friends out). We use a jelly sieve and a nylon stocking. It gives us a nice clean product in the end.The foundation-less frame is much more fun. We cut out squares and they are beautiful. We don’t have a need for combed honey so it ultimately gets mashed and strained as well. It is so pretty and the weight of the frame is amazing.
The now empty and very messy frames go back to the hive to be cleaned by the bees and reused. When talking to people about having bees, especially with beekeepers, they seem to think honey cannot be harvested without an industrial spinning extractor. I’m quite certain my grandmother never had one, nor many cultures that also keep bees. There is a gadget for everything and if you want to clean it and store it, go for it. At the scale we are at, this gets the job done fine.
The stocking of wax heads for the freezer until we are completely done with the honey harvest so it can be cleaned in one gross happening and not as we go. I love the wax but it is nasty to clean.
And so goes the honey flow.