We had our first honey harvest on September 28th. It was a very exciting afternoon! Lane, Colton, and Kinzie all helped with the extraction and bottling part of the process.
We had expected to have at least 7-8 frames of honey to extract between the two hives based on my hive inspection the week before. However, when we went to collect the frames we found that the hive with the most honey had been completely robbed! There was absolutely nothing left in the frames of the honey supers. Thankfully, my mentor was with us to help and was able to explain what had happened and how to tell. Basically, in the fall stronger hives will rob weaker hives of their honey. This occurs because there isn’t as much for the bees to eat this time of year. When a hive is robbed the robbers come in and eat everything that they can. Luckily, the robber bees had not touched the frames in the big boxes the bees have stored for winter.
We ended up only getting 4 or 5 frames that had honey we could harvest. Most of them were only partially filled and capped so I am very happy with our 4 jars of honey.
Our first honey harvest on 14 Hands Ranch was celebrated at dinner that night with our favorite thing to eat with honey – homemade biscuits!
The rest of the fall I will be feeding sugar syrup to all three bee hives. This will help to ensure that they have enough honey stored up to make it through the winter. The first two hives are going through one quart jar of sugar syrup about every 3 days. The swarm hive is getting their jar refilled every day. They still have a few frames to fill before winter so I am feeding them as much as they can eat.
I have learned so much about beekeeping and bees in general this year. Next spring, I plan to split any of the hives that survive the winter as a more economical way of adding hives. If none of them survive winter, I will have to purchase all new bees. I am hoping to have 8-10 hives within a couple of years. This would hopefully give us enough honey for our family as well as leave some to sell. As with anything, I am sure that I will continue to learn more about bees and beekeeping summer. And next year, I will have someone else come take photos for me when we harvest our honey! I had my good camera in the garage but my fingers were so sticky that I didn’t dare use it!