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Lessons learned (read as "OUCH!)

Discussion in 'Honey Harvest' started by Latestarter, Sep 22, 2015.

  1. Sep 22, 2015
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    OK, finally got off my duff today and went out to harvest honey. I figured I'd do the powdered sugar dust at the same time after I took the frames out of the honey super. WRONG!

    OK, so I got the smoker fired up and tried to lift the outer cover... Glued down TIGHT! Had to pry it open so jostled everyone before I even got started... Then again when removing the inner cover... OK, so that done, there were a LOT of bees in the frames and underside of the inner cover. I had to puff a LOT of smoke in the hive as well as around myself as the bees were NOT happy! The first frame was pretty much empty so i set that in the hanger to make room to pull the others.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    OK, so lessons learned;

    #1 Get a fume board and USE IT! The smoke brought the bees up into the super to eat honey... NOT the ideal when you're trying to get the bees OUT of the super...
    #2 Do NOT use a swifer duster to remove the bees from the removed honey frames... they stick to it... like dust, (and spilled honey) but better! They definitely do NOT like it! (Who knew right?)
    #3 Do NOT go bare handed when stealing their honey! Got hit 3 times, all on the left hand (which was holding the frame at the top center.) Have a little minor swelling by the last one, right on the index finger knuckle. Hope this helps the arthritis there... Took a couple of Benedryl, just in case.
    #4 Make sure if using the smoker, that there's enough fuel to last the entire evolution. Sucks if you run out before you go back out to open the hive and put the scraped clean frames back in for Bee cleaning. They remember you from 10 minutes earlier. They are still decidedly UN-happy!
    #5 do NOT even THINK about doing the powdered sugar thing when stealing honey... plan on stealing the honey and making a hasty get-away! The bees are pissed, and there's leaking honey all over the place that the sugar will stick to and make a mess.
    #6 Propolis gets stuck to EVERY thing! Propolis is hard to remove once on something (like laundry basket handles).
    #7 A full frame of honey is HEAVY! A full medium honey super is up to10 times as heavy! I left the box on the hive and put the frames into a laundry basket to carry to the house. I had 6 full and two 1/2 frames (1 side full, the other sides were 1/2 uncapped, so only scraped the capped honey and left the rest for the bees.) Only had one un-drawn frame in the super!

    Altogether a rather good start since this is my first year. I had been told to not expect any honey or maybe just a little. That pot 1/2 full weighed out at 26.2 pounds (wax & honey combined)! If there's 6 pounds of wax there, that leaves me with 20 pounds of honey! I'm very happy with those results! I just wish I had been more of a bee keeper and less of a "bee haver" The other hive might have survived and I'd have twice this amount.

    There is still a lot of alfalfa blooming around here so they can still collect more nectar/pollen to stock up before the first hard frost/freeze. I'll go back and remove the super in a week or so, hopefully dust with powdered sugar, remove the honey super frames, in there and start feeding them 2:1 sugar water so they can fill voids. After the first hard freeze, I'll swap over to just plain sugar for the winter.

    What an experience!
     

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  2. Sep 22, 2015
    Maggiesdad

    Maggiesdad Loving the herd life

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    Oh , they're gonna remember you for the next three weeks! LOL You honey robber you! :weee
     
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  3. Sep 23, 2015
    Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Loving the herd life

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    I believe 2 little birdies mentioned the bees would surprise you one day. :p Hope you had your veil on!

    Get a fume board and use honey bee quick. It's super easy to rob them of their honey that way. I didn't get stung, just sayin'. ;) I like rubber dish gloves, I can feel everything, but I "feel" protected. (even though I'm probably not) It still scares me when I grab a frame and feel a buzzing under my finger. Dish gloves are better than dropping a frame of bees!

    Honey is heavier than water at 11 pounds per gallon, so yup, be prepared for some weight!

    Propolis doesn't come off in the wash either, it's still on my pants. I haven't tried hand sanitizer on it yet though. Hand sanitizer will take off tree pitch, so it might work for propolis too.

    Sorry, but the mental picture of you using a swiffer duster is hilarious. :lol: I can only imagine how ticked off the bees were! I can tell you from first hand experience that they don't like being tangled in hair either.

    Don't forget to rinse the cappings and save them in a sealed container to melt down later.

    You did awesome that you got a good amount of honey the first year! Alfalfa is supposed to be a great nectar source for the bees. I wish CA had the honey prospects as so much of the rest of the US does, but we are too dry I guess.

    The one thing you didn't tell us was...........how does it taste? Yum!!!!!!!!
     
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  4. Sep 23, 2015
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    I'm still straining it. Man does it flow out SSSssssllllloooooowwwwwwww....... I'll save all the wax. I did destruction harvesting and scraped the frames clean with a spatula. Then put them back in the hive to be cleaned up. I think next year I'll be getting a spinner separator (extractor). This straining is taking forever! If you laughed at the mental picture of the swifer, you should have seen me trying to get it back on the wand after it fell off from me trying to shake all the bees out of it!! :barnie I had on a 3/4 suit and the veil, just no gloves. I guess from here on out I'm going to need the gloves too. My left hand is pretty swollen right now and I've never had this kind of reaction to a sting... Of the 3 stings, only one has caused the issue. I wonder if different bees within a colony carry slightly different poisons in their stings... two of the 3 I barely even felt, but the 3rd one was kick butt! Hope I'm not (becoming) allergic :confused:
     
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  5. Sep 23, 2015
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    I have yet to check my hives for honey but will be surprised to get any. The 2 hives here at my house I didn't even put supers on so I know they aren't giving me anything. Everything around where I live is dry all summer so they have a tough time of it.

    Sorry about getting stung, you are a brave man (crazy) to steal honey without gloves. When I take the honey I smoke very little and never use a fume board, but I also don't scrape the frames in the field. Get a bee brush too. :) I take a large plastic crate with a lid and get a frame "de-beed" with my trusty brush and then quickly slip the frame into the crate and put on the lid. Then do another. I seldom have more than two or three bees in the box of honey. Then I take it to the house and scrape and mash and strain. I have a strainer for honey that fits over a 5 gallon bucket, and a warm house.

    I also have an extractor and I don't use it very often. The house has to be warm for it to work well too and I just get tired of turning the darn crank. The cleanup of the eqipment is more work too. The one thing I do like is that the bees can have the comb back pretty much intact. When I do the crush and strain method I spread the caps and the crushed comb out in a big roasting pan and let the bees have it. I have melted them...too much work for my taste. I make lip balm and lotions that use bees wax and I would rather buy it than melt it and strain it multiple times to get it pristine. I feel bad stealing from the bees so at least they can have the wax and honey residue. They do all the work and we take it all from them, doesn't seem quite fair.

    When you really think about it why do they make so much honey if they don' t need it all for survival. Do they just have OCD ???
     
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  6. Sep 23, 2015
    Hens and Roos

    Hens and Roos Herd Master

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    sorry you got stung :hugs but cool about getting honey :weeethat will taste great once you're all finished processing it!

    We have thought about adding bees but will probably hold off as we just added the goats!
     
  7. Sep 23, 2015
    Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Loving the herd life

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    Latestarter - you probably had 1 overzealous bee that pumped more venom into you.

    I like extracting because I don't want to destroy their comb every time I harvest. It's so much work for them to rebuild it. But everyone has a different way of doing it.


    Babs - it almost wasn't worth the effort for the little bit I got. I hope we get that super wet winter they are telling us is coming.
     
  8. Sep 23, 2015
    samssimonsays

    samssimonsays Milo & Me Hoppy Tail Acres

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    The visuals had me absolutely ROLLING!!! :lol: I have often thought about one day doing bees... I am too chicken yet LOL! We also have a ton of wasps and hornets around us, both black and yellow... Maybe one day when we have more acreage to do it.
     
  9. Sep 23, 2015
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Yeah Folks, I would rather NOT destroy all that comb they built, but no $$ this year to get an extractor and didn't really expect to get any honey this year based on what I was told from others' experience. Having a completely filled super blew me away. I had THOUGHT and hoped it would go this way since I'm surrounded by farms that plant melon (pumpkin, squash, etc) type crops (large flowers and lots of them).

    Just so you know Samantha, you can live in an apartment and place a hive on the patio or balcony! The bees will go out up to 3 miles in all directions to get pollen and nectar. The bees will kill the wasps and hornets if they try to enter the hive. They're pretty good about protecting themselves and the hive. Except when there's a food shortage or they're stressed, you can stand right beside the hive and they completely ignore you (NOT including africanized bees in that statement of course!:barnie).

    Sorry you folks didn't get much this year (Chooks and dad)...

    Are you going to even check your hives Babs? I didn't scrape the frames in the field, I put them in a laundry basket and carried them into the house to scrape them. Took the last few bees off them at the door before bringing them inside. I need to go to YouTube and learn how to process the wax... I'm sure that's gonna be more work, but since I'm no longer working (for someone else) I have lots of time :D

    Hens, you (your very handy/talented DH) can go to YouTube and see how to make a Top Bar Hive (TBH) They can be built from scratch pretty easily and are a fraction of the cost of langstroth hives. Once built, in the late spring, just dab a little lemon grass oil on a couple of frames inside and you've just created a swarm trap :clap With a little luck, you won't have to do anything else. A swarm will find it and move in and viola! you're an up & coming bee keeper! After that, it's really pretty low maintenance! I'll re-set up the other Lang hive I have next spring, but think I'm, going to do a TBH next time I expand.

    Oh, and Chooks, as you already know, the honey tastes amazing! :drool No comparison to store bought... so much better! The left hand is swollen pretty good today. Like a blown up rubber glove. The swelling extends a couple of inches past the wrist. Hopefully it will start to go down later today. Yeah... I know, those little birdies warned me. Will heed the warning from here on out.
     
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  10. Sep 23, 2015
    samssimonsays

    samssimonsays Milo & Me Hoppy Tail Acres

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    That is great to know! My track record is NOT good with any kind of bee so I am apprehensive but maybe someday soon. Wedid goats this year, hopefully chickens and more goats next year and then maybe we will try one hive in the coming years. 5.76 acres can only handle so much and my husband enjoys his vehicles and guns so need room for that lol!

    Hope your swelling goes down soon!