Busy Bee Cleaners, Inc.

No one likes cleaning up after a sticky honey extraction except the bees!

I make sure the equipment is far from both hives (to prevent robbing) and then let them have at it!!

Proud Of My Honey

Well, my honey extraction is completed!  Now it’s time for me to clean up the stickiness!!

One of my readers asked about my extracting set-up. A picture is worth a thousand words.

The big silver thing is the centrifugal extractor.  The honey then goes through two mesh strainers and comes out into the bottling tub.  From there, I pour it into bottles straight from the dish washer.

Some people extract their honey in a garage or a basement, but that seems too un-hygienic to me.

Even though honey comes from outside and all, I like to keep things squeaky clean after it comes indoors. Hey, I’m a Virgo!

Hygiene aside, what I’m most proud of about my honey is that I don’t treat my bees with anything. The honey is completely organic. I don’t think there are very many beekeepers around who can make that claim.

But enough bragging. Here are my bottles, glowing and finished!

The Noble Bayard Nods His Approval

This Is What I’m Doing This Weekend

Two Supers Full Of Honey

Yesterday, I took two shallow supers full of honey off of the original hive.  It went fairly smoothly. (Despite being Friday, the 13th!)

I was surprised to have so much honey in the middle of July, especially since I had a fairly large harvest in the spring. But this is a huge hive, and we’ve had a strong nectar flow since April.

The hive was absolutely packed to the rafters with brood and honey.  This extraction gave me the opportunity to provide more room and to get my supers straightened out.

I’m sure I had a reason to do it at the time, but my supers were in crazy order. I had a deep on the bottom, then a medium, then two shallows and then a deep on the very top!

The bottom deep was full of brood and the medium was full of brood and honey.  I took the medium out to make the split. It was perfect for that purpose!

The next two shallow supers were completely full of honey. No brood at all. (I don’t use a Queen excluder.) I took those boxes off to extract.

The top deep was full of brood and honey! How did the bees know to skip the shallow supers?  Who knows??

Anyway, I put the second deep on top of the first one and then put an empty medium on top of that. After I finish the extraction, I’ll add another two shallow supers on top of those.  This order makes a lot more sense!!

My spring honey was dark. It looked a lot like maple syrup.  This honey is light gold, almost white. It is ambrosial!

Well, I’ve got a lot of sticky work ahead of me. More later!

Beetox

Since my recent honey extraction, I’ve been stung twice, both times on the face. I swelled up like a balloon, and I’m not even allergic.

My daughter practiced her considerable makeup skills on me this weekend, so I don’t look quite so much like the Elephant Man today.

In fact, the swelling in my face smoothed out a few wrinkles.  I’m calling it “Beetox.”

But the fact  I was stung in the first place by my usually gentle girls made me wonder — Why now? Why on my face? Why did I have such a bad reaction?

I did some research. The answers were, as usual, mostly  “Me-” rather than “Bee-” related.

1.  I didn’t have my bee veil all the way on.  Bees are alarmed by carbon dioxide, hair, and dark colors because common predators of bees (e.g. bears) are hairy, dark colored, and exhale carbon dioxide.  This  is also why bees are drawn to attack the face and head.

2.  Bees are cranky after a honey extraction.   They don’t like anyone taking their honey.  I haven’t noticed this before because this is the first year I’ve had enough honey to extract in the spring. Usually I extract in the fall, right before my bees start closing down shop for the winter.  Also it was warm, rainy and humid.  Bees get cranky for some of the same reasons people do.

3.  I swatted at the bee and hopped and flailed my arms.  Big no-no. Bees are attracted to movement and swatting only makes them more determined to sting.

4.  I pulled out the stingers out with my fingers. This squeezed more venom into the wound. Instead,  I should have scraped the stinger out sideways using my fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edged object.

I’m sure my girls will settle down to normal once they get over the shock of being robbed and the weather dries out a bit.

While I would’ve preferred to have learned the above a different way, a few stings are a part of beekeeping. And I do look a little younger…

An (Almost) Painless Extraction

The opening of the hive the other day wasn’t exactly painless.

My business partner Denis wasn’t dressed for the job and got more than his share of stings. I didn’t zip up my bee suit all the way and got a boo boo on my face.

Thank goodness the job of extracting the honey yesterday and today went a lot more smoothly. It’s a sticky job, but somebody’s got to do it.

The honey is absolutely delicious! If there is anyone out there who has not had fresh, unprocessed honey, you have to try some soon. It is so different and so much better than store-bought honey, it is hard to describe.

Next week my new bees will arrive and I will have two hives. I’m trying to find a supplier who still has package bees so I can have a third hive this year.

I love spring and summer!!