Honey honey honey

20150606_115938 (1)Well, it’s not being a bad year so far, up til yesterday I had maybe 250lb off in 5 batches. Then the other day I needed to move hives to the borage, I am very late to the party – part late notification of where I could put them from the farmer, part lack of time and part procrastination I guess.

Now those of you who have moved hives in summer may know of the issues – you have to do it at night and you have to do it with supers on. In my case the former added to most of the delay – its hard to be motivated at 9pm to start lugging hives after a long day – and the latter caught me out. I had picked up and successfully delivered to site the hive I expected to be trouble – they were good as gold, so that re-queening worked. I thought to myself, “well that was surprisingly easy, I will go and do the others”.

That’s where I came across the latter. Hives with full supers are not movable by one person,  in the dark, with a family hatchback to struggle them into – it just wasn’t going to end well for anyone. So I popped some wet supers on top of one of the larger hives over the crown board fo be cleaned by the bees and called it a night.

Oh, before I forget, angry bees, in the dark, when you can’t see where they are coming from to attack you… yeah, not nice at all – kind of stuff of nightmares. Oh and that while driving, recipe for an accident if ever there was one – so drive in a bee suit or at very least a veil. Sure you get funny looks, including a police officer in central London once, but that’s another story.

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, honey… I went back this weekend and from 6 hives I took 10 1/2 full supers (and I mean full – I decant frames and put the not filled frames back) I figure somewhere just south of 300lb of honey – not bad for an intermediate harvest and no wonder I could not lift those hives.

(The picture is of the June 6th harvest, part of the first 250lb)

GOLD …gold

…just to paraphrase Spandau Ballet and in celebration of some of my lovely honey… well the bees honey really.

20150309_073911

It always looks so nice by the light of the warming cabinet – so I thought I would share the experience.

Not the best photo, but the experience of opening the cabinet door is somewhat similar to the scene in the diner in Pulp Fiction when they open the briefcase. Balmed in a warm golden glow of luxury edibles – at least thats how I see it … the other half shrieks that it is too bright.

There is a interesting point luxury edibles. Is honey a luxury item or a basic foodstuff ? Discuss…

Busy Busy Busy

Its that time of the year when its harvesting and hard work, and the interest in bees becomes a bit of a burden. Trying to keep up with moving hives and rotating supers to spin the honey off to give the bees enough room so they wont do an unwise late swarm.

Harvest so far this year, as extracted, is just short of 300lbs, but that’s not the end of the story. I have 13 supers taken off and not extracted yet so another 325lb hopefully and about another 9 supers that need to be taken off yet, so another 225lb hopfully. So I might get to 800lb all told. Last year was about 340lb in total so its going in the right direction.

Some hives have done stunningly well, one of which was a nuc this year and has brought in almost as much as the very best which I think is going to round up to about 150lb.

This year, I’ve found that :

  • 4oz jars sell well for people that just want to try something (so more of those to order)
  • jars are hard to find when you’re running out, buy lots when you find them cheap
  • a good stand is not hard to make, but if you leave them on a field alone people will steal them (Grrr…)
  • you never have enough supers ready
  • raising your own queens is a very good idea, apart from ability to improve your stock, it means that you will have spare mated queens if you have an unfortunate / sudden queen loss
  • if you have a mean hive, re-queen and don’t let the drones mate with any queens you want to use.
  • I need to keep better records – once again I didn’t manage to keep up full records throughout.

As I have a couple of queens left over from queen rearing I am going to split a couple of hives at the end of the year and overwinter as nucs.

Honey for sale

Phew…

I have a load of rape seed (canola) honey, some lovely wildflower honey, some honey from beans and now some honey from borage (starflower) too.

I’m selling in in 1lb jars for £4.50, 12oz for £3.50 and 1oz sample pots for 40p (was going to be 25p but it worked out cheaper that way than to buy 1lb at a time).

I can do collection from Harlow or White City , West London; or maybe delivery subject to volume/distance. I looked at postage, but the suitable packaging for glass jars costs a fortune, as well as cost for the weight of postage.

Update for July

Well, once again its been too long without an update so here goes;

Finished the queen rearing course mentioned in the last update – having learnt various facets of queen rearing and general beekeeping
I’ve finally taken a serious amount of honey – approx 300lbs so far with more to come. Saying that I found today that from 2 x 30lb buckets I got 81 1lb jars, so it might be conservative. Hooray !
I have bought some labels for honey jars, finally, I just chose a temporary one for now. Then found some online software for creating labels myself at home, as our club secretary does. I made this

First Label

I went to the Thorne’s centenary in wragby, lincolnshire. It was very interesting, I got some good deals and learnt a neat idea from artisan honey, put honey cappings in a hive top feeder and give the bees full access and they will clear the cappings of honey, so effortless separation and the honey goes in the super again.

I also got a number of bits and bobs to make things out of which with a bit of luck will feature here. I have some plastic excluders that I am going to make a wooden run for so they have bee space (I am bottom bee space) and extra stiffness. I also got an electric nail / staple gun, so I should make quick work of that. I got some varroa mesh, from which I plan to make queen cages, mesh floors, clearer boards and other contraptions.

I worked the apiary on the borage, including one hive that went a bit mean. I found the queen and was on the verge of ‘dealing with her’, I chickened out and had a word with her, because she’d been good up til then. It seems to be getting better now, stopped pinging off the veil. She was also saved by having produced the most honey this year of any of the hives, with 5 supers taken already and 4 still on but not quite filled.

I acquired some decent strain queens in nucs and mini nucs. Two from Clive de Bruyn, some from Terry Thrussell (although I dont think any of them made it:- ( ) and some from other sources (I should keep better records)

I need to get on an put some pollen cages on hives so I can collect pollen before its too late, to make pollen patties over winter.
I have a lovely queen that I want to try breeding from, she hasn’t swarmed, she is very calm natured and produced a fair load of honey (by comparison). I am not sure if I have missed the opportunity though in terms of the right time of year.

I think that is all for now. I will have to get back to writing better posts with more pictures, I have lots of pictures, so I’ll just have a few historical posts when I get round to it.