At last we harvested some honey! We are only harvesting from our Olga hive as the Kitty hive is not producing any surplus. Olga has plenty for winter and a little extra for us to enjoy.
I want to thank all the readers who recommended Bee-Quick to me for getting the bees out of the honey supers--it worked GREAT! I have no basis for comparison for what some of the other alternatives smell like, but the aroma of this wasn't so bad. Although, I did learn that the oils will wipe off the little marks on your camera that let you know what setting you are shooting in--oops. What you're supposed to do is spray the Bee-Quick on a fume board.
When I opened the hive and looked on top of one of our supers, I saw many bees milling about amidst sticky propolis. Smoke isn't the most ideal option at this point. Yes, it will cause the bees to move from the top and be mellow, but it also causes them to open up capped honey and eat it--not the desired effect when you want to extract capped honey.
You put the fume board on top of the super that is full of honey that you want to take out. The super is the smaller unpainted box. The fume board looks like the hive roof on top of it. You let it sit there for about two to five minutes.
Here's what that same super looked like after three minutes with the fume board--a ghost town of honey and propolis. Pretty slick. The supers full of honey were very heavy and this time I drove out to the hives instead of walk to make bringing them back to the house easier.
I don't know why, but I can only hear Cabal talk in an I Can Has Cheezburger voice. There were about three or four bees still milling about in the frames but they left by the time I took the supers back to the four runner, so Cabal was safe. I harvested two supers, a regular cut comb honey kit and our Ross Rounds super.
When I got the Ross Round super into the kitchen, I began to wonder how I was going to get the frames out. There was propolis in every visible nook and cranny. The frames are kind of wedged together as it is so as not to violate bee space, but they literally sealed the deal with the propolis. Perhaps they knew this super was for Mr. Neil and myself and they thought, "Okay, if they're gonna steal the honey, we're gonna make it as difficult as possible."
Never under estimate the power of a hive tool--an essential piece of bee keeping equipment that looks remarkably like your garden variety paint scraper. Anyway, it lives up to the reputation by prying open anything, including propolis packed frames.
comb honey ready to go. It was at this point that I realized that the fantabulous logo that Olga has designed for our honey (we've even named it--Mr. Neil and Beechick's Dangerous Honey) is rectangular and most of our honey is in round form...we're gonna have to rethink the labeling a little bit.
Not all of the honey was capped. This means that it's "not quite ripe." You can still eat it, but it has a little too much moisture in it and it will ferment in storage. Some of this I will put out in a feeder to the Kitty hive to help her build up her winter stores since she is a tad behind Olga but some I will keep for myself. I really like it, it's like some strange chewy candy. The entire cell isn't quite full, so when you bite into the comb, it's a soft textures that pops little bursts of sweetness into your mouth. I think eating fresh comb straight from the frame is now in my top ten foods. And to think, about three years ago, I didn't like the taste of honey. I made fun of friends for eating their "bee vomit" (well it kind of is) but now, with my own bees I've raised with great friends, I can't get enough of it.
Here's the pile of our harvest. Keep in mind that this is just from one hive during our first summer when we weren't expect to get any honey. What will next summer be like when we have two hives in full honey production? Yikes!
And now, I leave you with some bee art that the Olga girls made. This is actually propolis that was surrounding one of the Ross Round frames wedged against the wall of the honey super. That Olga, she is so artistic. And true to form, she was our early on problem child, but the best honey producer in the end.