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Mason Jar Bee Super

Discussion in 'Habitat - The Beehive' started by SrStinkaLot, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. Jul 7, 2015
    SrStinkaLot

    SrStinkaLot Chillin' with the herd

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    Hi, I've recently seen on the internet some Mason Jar Supers and I would like the opinion of someone that knows about bees before I try to make the Super and try it out on my bees, is it worth it? How would bees do in a habitat like that? Any comments or suggestions?
     
  2. Jul 7, 2015
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Greetings from the front range in Colorado, USA. I have 2 hives and just started this year, so am no expert by any stretch of the imagination. I did a little research and don't personally think the mason jar idea will work all that well unless you have specific circumstances, number one being a well established hive already. One thing you can do is use a partial piece of foundation in the center of the frame (in the honey super) so the bees will build comb off to either side that can then be cut out as comb honey. or just start with the center frame with a full sheet of foundation, and glue Popsicle sticks in the slots of the other frames to give the bees a place to attach comb, and let them do the entire frame as just comb...
     
  3. Jul 7, 2015
    SrStinkaLot

    SrStinkaLot Chillin' with the herd

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    I have 12 hives and I am planning in expanding to 20 but I was thinking in the mason jar idea so I could get some more income for selling the jars with comb honey instead of selling the jars just with honey, the idea you gave me is so I could produce comb honey from the supers I already have?
     
  4. Jul 7, 2015
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Yes... I have 10 frame honey supers. Instead of placing full sheets of foundation in each frame, cut the foundation in half, or into thirds. Then take the smaller piece and center it in a/the frame. Fill the top slot on either side of the small piece of foundation with a piece of Popsicle stick, glued into place. The bees should draw comb on the foundation and then continue out onto the Popsicle stick until they fill the entire frame with comb, which then gets filled with honey. When you pull the frame, you simply cut the comb out from either side of the foundation. The comb that's on the foundation would have the honey extracted normally.

    Alternatively, you could place empty frames with just popsicle sticks glued into the top slot all the way across, in between frames with full sheets of foundation. The foundation will help keep the bees drawing the comb on the empty frame, straight (vertically) for you.
     
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  5. Jul 7, 2015
    SrStinkaLot

    SrStinkaLot Chillin' with the herd

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    Nice I've never tried extracting comb honey and it sounds pretty interesting, a couple of questions: Why can't the comb with foundation be extracted? How long can it take approximately for a beehive to produce the comb?
     
  6. Jul 7, 2015
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    You can't really "extract" the comb off the foundation without destroying it (the comb). As you scrape it off, it crushes and makes a huge mess. Better to leave that comb intact, on the foundation, and just remove the honey from it in the standard way: by de-capping the comb then spinning the honey out of the comb. Then you can place it (the frame with empty comb) back in the hive for the bees to clean up or probably re-fill where you're located. I imagine since you're tropical, that you have nectar flows pretty much year round.

    In my limited experience, in a hive full of bees, they can draw out a full frame of comb in a day or less. It doesn't matter to them if it's on foundation or just free hanging comb. They can draw out all frames in the honey super in about a week or less! It's amazing how fast they can do it when they want/need to. If you do as I've outlined, when you place the frame back in the super, the foundation comb has already been drawn and is still intact, so the bees simply clean it up and refill those cells as they need to. they will re-draw out the comb on either side that you cut out, in no time.

    If you do the partial foundation, you just slip a knife into the comb alongside the edge of the foundation and just cut out the free hanging comb full of honey. There will be some honey loss along the edges as you cut through honey filled cells, but you should end up with one large block of honey filled comb that you can then cut into smaller squares to package and sell.

    Wish you luck and success in whichever method you attempt. Fresh honey is amazing stuff!
     
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  7. Jul 7, 2015
    SrStinkaLot

    SrStinkaLot Chillin' with the herd

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    @Latestarter Thank you for all your advice on a new way to extract honey from my hives and have a little bit more income due to comb honey. :thumbsup

    I will still wait if anyone has seen, applied or knows about the mason jar idea because it may be better for my costumers due to the fact that they expect honey to be in a jar and I may not have a market for comb honey but the comb honey in a jar may be better for my market.
     
  8. Jul 8, 2015
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    I did comb honey one year and used a very thin real wax foundation in the supers and then when I harvested it I used the 4" comb cutter and cut all the way through the foundation, it was very pretty. But what I didn't do was then set the squares of comb on a rack to drain before putting it in the containers so the pretty comb didn't look so pretty. The wax cappings really should stay untouched to look their best.

    Also, it is very hot in the summers where I live and the foundation was so thin that it would start to sag on the frames before the bees got them all drawn out so I lost quite a few frames of comb and I just had to cut the nice stuff and crush and strain the rest.

    I will have to look at the mason jar idea, sounds intriguing but I bet getting the bees out of the jars could be a challenge.
     
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  9. Jul 8, 2015
    Maggiesdad

    Maggiesdad Loving the herd life

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    Welcome to BYH, SrStinkalot!

    From what I've read, while the mason jar super looks cool and can work, it's a lot of effort for a small return. The bees really don't like working in the tight space of the glass jar, it takes a booming hive with a good flow on to get them to move up in there.
    And then it's a pain in the rear to get the bees off of the comb and out of the jar when you are ready to harvest.
    I think @Latestarter is giving you good advice with the chunk honey method -similar marketing effect, lots less effort.

    bees put it in the jar, then you backfill...[​IMG]
    You put it in the jar, then backfill...
    [​IMG]

    You still need to be able to turn out a good comb honey product for this, which is a couple of rungs up the art of beekeeping ladder. :D =D

    On the other hand, I think you should try it - tell us how it works for you!
    Is your nectar flow seasonal in Columbia? Or do your bees make honey year round?
     
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  10. Jul 8, 2015
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    @Maggiesdad I guess no one told me that comb honey was up the ladder. :) It wasn't any harder than "other" honey other than the melting the comb in the hive part, but I have no control over the environment. Once the bees drew out the comb it wouldn't sag so I guess I should have put them on earlier in the year and hoped for a cool spring.

    My problem was/is...no one wants to buy it. I packed 3"- 4" squares of cut comb in plastic clam shell boxes and I only sold a few; most of them are in my freezer taking up space. I also put some in jars like your pictures and they only sold when that was all there was left. Fun experiment, but won't be doing it again.