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!

Replacing Old Comb – The Bailey Method And The Shook Swarm Technique

This information is taken from Information Sheets prepared by John Hauxwell, former Chair of the North London Beekeepers. Many thanks!

Bailey Method

All new/additional hive parts should be new and/or sterilized.

1. Remove all unoccupied peripheral brood combs, without disturbing the brood nest. Insert dummy boards tight to each side of the brood nest. (wax & any left over stores can be recovered)
2. Place on top of the old brood box, another brood box with new brood frames with fresh foundation (the same number as there are existing below) with dummy boards each side. The new frames must be exactly above the old ones.
3. Feed the bees with thick sugar syrup in a contact feeder until there is a nectar flow. This helps the bees to produce wax for comb building. (small quantities at a time to avoid too much syrup storage).
4. The bees should now start to expand their nest upwards into the new frames, and extra frames can be added to accommodate the expansion.
5. Once the queen is laying well in the upper box, separate the 2 brood boxes with a queen excluder, ensuring that the queen is in the upper box!
6. 21 days later, the worker brood will have hatched out from the original frames, so the old brood box & queen excluder can be removed. Put the new brood box on a new/clean floor. (it is not worth the while sterilizing the combs or trying to recover the wax)
7. Keep feeding if necessary.
8. Now revert to your normal beekeeping practices.

a. new comb = healthy comb
b. mimics the natural wild colony process of new comb building
c. improved colony build up
d. good for the wax builders & can delay swarming
e. end product = a vigorous, healthy colony

The Shook Swarm Technique

A colony must be strong enough to withstand a Shook Swarm, i.e., at least six brood frames of bees and have a satisfactory laying queen. The colony must be able to draw out the foundation, and therefore the ideal months are from late April to June.
The beekeeper must have ready for use clean/sterilised equipment for a new hive. This is your opportunity to give the colony a clean hive to start the season, similar to the hiving of a natural swarm.

1. Move the colony a short distance from its original position.
2. Place a clean brood chamber with clean frames with foundation, with a clean floor and entrance block, on the original position. Use a queen excluder between the floor and chamber to prevent the queen from absconding. Find the queen, and cage her for safekeeping during this manipulation.
3. Remove approximately 3 central frames of foundation from the new hive.
4. Shake all bees from the original hive into the center (do this by lowering the frames, one at a time, into the gap and shaking all the bees into the depth of the chamber) and brush any remaining bees.
5. Put the old frames without bees into a bag for destruction later. In foundation replacement & swarming situations, it is a good idea to put 1 original frame of open brood into the new chamber.
6. When all old frames have been shaken into the new chamber, replace the 3 frames with foundation gently into place, then carefully release the queen into the brood chamber.
7. Feed the bees with sugar syrup until the foundation is at least 75% drawn out. If there is already honey in a super or good nectar flow, feeding may not be necessary, but be careful.

Exploring the Mysteries of the Langstroth Hive, Part IV. The Final Chapter!

Langstroth Hive

We are now at the Hive Body aka Brood Chamber.

Bee boxes come in six basic sizes:

Large aka “deeps” or “brood boxes” – comes in 2 widths – 10 frame and 8 frame.

Medium aka “Illinois” or “western” – comes in 2 widths – 10 frame and 8 frame.

Small aka “honey super” or “shallow” – comes in 2 widths – 10 frame and 8 frame.

Of course there are other sizes and varieties of boxes, e.g. “super shallows” and “section supers” like the one pictured in the diagram. But I’m sticking to the basics here.

Old School beekeepers use the Large 10 frame box as their Hive Body/Brood Chamber.  They usually stack another Large box on top of the first one as their colony grows in size.

There’s only one problem.  When a Large 10 frame box is full of brood and honey, it is HEAAAVVYY!!  I’m talking 90 pounds of heavy!

My first hive is totally Old School.  Two large boxes on the bottom, with two medium boxes on top of those used as honey supers.

Can I lift those bottom boxes? Sure, when I’m powered by adrenaline because I’m terrified all my bees are going to die if I don’t get the hive back together! Like those stories of people lifting cars…

I learned my lesson the hard way. My second hive is going to be made up entirely of Medium 8 frame boxes. I’ve heard them called “lady boxes.”  Sounds good to me!!

Next we arrive at the Queen Excluder, possibly the most controversial piece of equipment on the hive.  The point of an excluder is to keep the Queen from laying eggs in the honey supers, thus keeping baby bees out of the honey you harvest.  Most beekeepers I know regard them with disdain, including Bee Guru Michael Bush. I tried an excluder once, but never again. My worker bees hated it.  My advice? Toss it.

Next we come to the Inner Cover.  I understand that this is an essential part of the hive, but I forgot to put mine on last year and my bees are fine.  I recommend using one, however.

FINALLY, we arrive at the Outer or Telescoping Cover. A very essential part of the hive.  And now it comes in an attractive English Garden Style!

English Garden Hive Cover

I hope this series has unraveled some of the Mysteries of the Langstroth Hive.  Now on to some gardening topics!!

Some Creative Langstroth Hives!