Hive Inspection – 24 06 2012

Another windy, and not very warm, Sunday morning but we felt the need to have a look at what’s going on in the hives.  The weather this week has been all over the place again and I suspect the bees are consuming far more honey than they are collecting.  I’m not sure we are going to have much at all to harvest and we’ve got a growing list of people wanting to buy from us – mainly repeat customers wanting to double their orders!

Extracting honey from the supers

Honey – as natural as you can get.

I often get asked how we make honey.  The short answer is “we” don’t – the bees do!  That’s a detailed subject that I want to cover in one of the BeeMovie films that I will get round to producing at the end of the season, but explaining how we harvest and process the honey is quite simple.

First we take off the frames (stored in ‘supers‘) of capped honey from the beehives and de-cap them with a fork-like tool (see above left).  These frames are then placed in a centrifugal spinner which empties all the cells of honey.  The honey is then run through a triple filter system to remove wax and other debris.  The final stage is to pour into jars for resale/storage.  We don’t apply any other treatments to the honey – not even heat – so its about as natural as you can get.

I do hope there’s a late honey flow and we can provide all the honey we have on order – and get some for us too!!!  For those interested we sell off the doorstep at £5 for a 1lb jar – or £20 for 5 1lb jars.

Now on to what we found on this inspection…

Hive 1
Just a quick look to make sure the queen was still laying – and she was, with great gusto.  We didn’t spot the queen herself but there were plenty of eggs across about 6 frames.  If you spot eggs the queen was there three days ago and I’ve no reason to believe she wasn’t there on this inspection too.  Nothing much in the way of honey in the super but there was stores in the brood box and all seemed well.  It was windy and not too warm so they were a bit on the grumpy side – so we closed it down pretty sharp.

Hive 2
The end is nigh!  In the past 7-years of keeping bees we’ve only ever lost a couple of colonies.  This is going to be the third.  Whilst its not a nice thing to happen I don’t think we are doing too bad when you consider all the nasty things happening to bees at present.  Unless there’s a miracle about to happen I don’t think you’ll see any reports about this Hive 2 in future blogs. RIP

Hive 3
Where there’s dark there’s light!  I was keen to see what happened to the frame with the solitary capped queen cell on it.  However, on taking out the frame the cell was still there – capped as before.  This was too long for a live queen to be in there still so she had to be a goner!  However, I moved on through the hive and there we eggs on two of the frames.  We have a queen!  We didn’t actually spot her but there was definitely eggs and unless there’s a egg laying worker we now have three queen-right colonies again.  There were still plenty of bees and the three supers seemed to have about the same amount of stores in them.

Hive 4
Just a quick dip inside on this one as by now we had a few buzzers hitting our veils – just to make sure we knew they were not happy with our intrusion on a windy and not so warm day.  Eggs spotted and plenty of capped brood.  This one is going to get big pretty quickly and we’ll need to keep an eye on their levels of stores.  If the weather doesn’t improve and they have nothing to forage for we might have to put a feed on.

As a positive final comment – the weather forecast for the coming week looks promising!

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