We made our second batch (or maybe it’s our third batch) of cut comb yesterday. It’s the last of the foundationless honey comb for this year. Our cut comb is messy and wouldn’t win any awards at the county fair — which is just the way we like it. That’s called keepin’ it real. Our method of making cut comb is simple: 1) Cut the comb from the medium sized frame. 2) Chop the comb into 18 little gooeily delicious squares. 3) Put the little squares of cut honey comb into little plastic containers. 4) That’s it. We also freeze the honey for 24 hours, but that’s something else. At any rate, it’s not the most exciting video, and it doesn’t hold a candle to my last video, Eating Raw Honey Comb, which, by the way, is the best darn tootin’ video I’ve ever posted, but here it is:
We also cut and strained a little over three frames of foundationless honey comb yesterday. I’ll post that video after we’ve bottled the honey.
I gave a friend some honey this past week, a jar of honey and a piece of cut honey comb. They took the jar but passed on the comb. I couldn’t believe it. I almost took back the jar of honey right then and there. Even now I wish I’d only given them a small jar. That’s right. I’ve become a honey snob. Sue me. I have no desire to give our honey to anyone who doesn’t appreciate it. You don’t like raw honey comb? You think it’s gross? No honey for you!
I had planned to describe the floral aromas and flavours of the honey in the video, but I became speechless as soon as I put the honey in my mouth.
Drones don’t make honey. They only eat it. They also contribute nothing to the survival of the colony during the winter months. Hence, most drones are expelled from the hive in the fall as the temperatures begin to drop. Sometimes the worker bees will even chew out the remaining drone brood in the hive and toss the drone pupae out the front door (see Piles of Dead Pupae). Gross. Honey bees don’t mess around when it comes to their survival. Here’s a video I took this morning of several drones being expelled from Hive #1:
If you watched carefully, you may have noticed worker bees riding around on the drones like bucking broncos, biting and pinching them; at one point a worker bee grabbed hold of a drone and got taken for a ride in the sky; another worker bee tried to fly away with a drone; and many of the worker bees surrounded more than a few drones and pestered them until they were gone. And one drone got dragged out already dead. Good times.
I got creative this summer and built a solid bottom board and a screened bottom board from scrap wood in my shed. I can’t continue to use either of them for long because the wood I used is old and half rotted and I’m afraid the boards will collapse under the weight of the hives during the winter, and around here that means damp and soggy, great conditions for softening up old plywood. So I went ahead and got more creative with my limited carpentry skills and woefully inadequate tools (or maybe it’s the other way around), and I built a new and improved sturdy bottom board that is both screened and solid. I won’t have a chance to put it into action this year, but I’ll show it off anyway. Here it is as a screened bottom board:
Honey from Hive #2 on top and Hive #1 on bottom. (Sept. 10, 2011.)
The darker honey in the bottom of the jar is from Hive #1 and it has a pleasantly mild flavour. The lighter honey in the top of the jar is from Hive #2 and that honey is sweeter. Hive #2 happens to be the foundationless hive, though I don’t think that has anything to do with the extra sweetness of the honey. The honey will gradually clear as the bubbles rise to the top. Continue reading →
Note to self: Smoke the bees before stealing a few frames from the bottom honey super. The bees are protective of their honey this time of year (if not all the time).
The bees one of my hives are smoking hot these days, ploughing through their honey supers at an impressive rate. Instead of adding a third honey super to the hive (which the bees might not be able to fill), I decided to pull three frames of honey from the bottom honey super and replace them with empty frames.
Two of the frames are foundationless. I’ll crush and strain them like I did with my first frame of honey. The other one will have to be extracted. I’m not sure how I’ll managed that yet. At any rate, this is my last post for the next couple weeks. By the time I post anything new, I’ll have harvested and probably bottled all of my honey — possibly up to 30 frames of honey. I’ll record videos and take photos of it all. See you later.
September 6ht, 2011: The bees have become extremely defensive since I took the honey from the hive — without using smoke. Within minutes of going in the backyard, I’ve got two or three bees buzzing around my head. I’ve never seen them this bad before. I’m managing it for now, but my backyard may be too small this for four hives. When the bees get defensive, it’s not good at all. I think I may have seen my next door neighbour swatting at some bees in his backyard. I hope they weren’t bees, but it’s possible. This could be very bad. I have to remember for now on to use smoke when pulling honey so the the bees don’t associate my scent, or human scent, with danger. This isn’t a good day. See What makes bees aggressive? from Honey Bee Suite for more info.
March 2019 Postscript: Beekeeping can be a little tricky at times, but I’d say it’s trickier in an urban or suburban environment because of the lack of space. When the bees get grumpy, it’s hard to avoid them. If I kept bees in an urban environment again, I would take extra steps not to disturb the bees or my neighbours. If I had to do a major invasive hive inspection — for example, to check for swarm cells — I would plan to do it at a time when I know my neighbours aren’t in their backyards. Once bees get defensive, they can easily fly over a fence and start head-butting and chasing humans who happen to get in their line of fire. The bees need to be handled with more gentleness and with consideration of close neighbours in an urban environment. It doesn’t take much for things to get a little out of hand.
I recently noticed some honey bees with white markings in one of my new hives. Only a small percentage of the bees have the markings, some more distinctive than others.
I’m not sure if it’s a sign of some disease or simply cool looking honey bee genetics at play. The colony seems healthy and thriving. Someone suggested it could be white pollen rubbing off onto the bees’ backs. If that’s the case, I might know where the bees are getting their pollen. I shall investigate. Stay tuned for updates… Continue reading →