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Beekeeping Bees Honey

Honey Harvest 2022

We harvested our honey for 2022 last week. This was the first year that we had two hives with almost all of the frames completely full!

I find it interesting that bee colonies can have different personalities. One of the hives has been very gentle all summer. They never swarm me or follow me back to the house after I have opened their box up. The other colony though is very aggressive. It always seems like all of them swarm out and try to attack you when the hive is opened! I have been told that the more aggressive colonies tend to survive winter better so I’m hopeful that we will have bees live though the winter again. This was the first year that we had bees live all winter. It was a pleasant surprise when I checked hives in March!

Like usual the kids were a lot of help for awhile when we started collecting the honey. After we finished the first 16 frames though, they lost interest and I got to finish the rest by myself.

Honey or “liquid gold” as Colton calls it, produced by bees right here on our little farm is something that I will forever be grateful for. Bees are amazing creatures. The symmetry and organization they use to build out the honeycomb is fun to study. The health benefits the honey provides to our family are a big plus as well!

We will have a limited amount of honey available for sale to local customers only. Look for it to be listed soon!

All photo credits go to Lane and Colton – my hands were way to sticky to touch a camera!

Categories
Beekeeping Bees Honey

First Honey Harvest

Taking the wax cap off of the honey.
Extracting the honey from the frames. They boys loved cranking the extractor!
Honey from the extractor then went into a bucket with a cloth strainer to catch any wax bits that might have been in it.
Bottling the honey into quart jars from the bucket.
After bottling we had 3.5 quarts of honey. When the wax finished draining we had almost 4 quarts of honey!

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!

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