2012-11-17 Count your Blessings / Painful lessons

So, as all you avid followers of this blog would know, last week I worked out that the Other was filling up fast, Metropolis and Baghdad were also filling .I basically put aside the whole weekend for playing with bees, it was time to collect the rent. Check all the local hives, harvest time.
First Over to dad's, where Edis gave me a hand checking Baghdad, Rima also partly suited up to take some snaps for us... last time Baghdad had lots of say 60% -70% capped frames, not quite ready.

This time, loads of full frames, 5 in all, and others were close. 4 from the top box, one from the middle.

Note the Lithuanian basketball sneakers. Classy.
Edis, smokin' em down. 

 The rule of thumb I've heard is you harvest a frame when 70% of it is capped, this the point at which the overall sugar content is such that the harvested honey will no longer ferment, which makes the honey rank and unusable. The uncapped cells are less sugary, the bees heat, evaporate and ingest / regurgitate the nectar until it goes from 15% sugar (as collected from the flower) to 85% , at which they cap it, a stockpile ready for winter, when they don't fly, just eat honey to keep themselves warm.
So, at about this point Rima got stung (she took the photos, thanks!), she got hit I think 3 times. At about the same time dad got clobbered as well, through his cords. The bees are difficult to brush off corduroy. They both retreated inside, while I finished the job. Whew. Stingose all 'round, except for me. 
So, later that afternoon, it was Metropolis and Other's turn, Andrius popped around, and kinda reluctantly gave me a hand. He took most of these photos, apart from a couple that Jazmina took. 

Suiting up

Just take a close look at that taping.
This is a man who does not want to be stung (and wasn't!)

Smokin it up.

I love those weird non-perfect hexes in there....

 This stinger on my glove. I'm totally converted to these new long-sleeve gloves dad gave me. (How the hell is it that purpose-made beekeeping gauntlet gloves, or even the suit are not sting proof??)
Stealing Honey: You grab a full frame, brush the bees off over the box, then retreat to the other end of the yard, flicking bees off the frame the whole way, then you quickly get it in a box and put the lid on.

This is the harvest, 3 full boxes of frames, 22 all up, including the 5 from Baghdad.
There's gonna be some spinning tonight.

1 Sting for me, on my heel (pinched a bee in my boot)
5 for Edis
3 for Rima, on her arms
and 1 doozy for Jazmina, she took a couple of snaps unsuited, got closer....zing, mailed on the temple.

Sting Tally:This season: 18 so far (Jonas 8, Edis 6, Rima 3, Jazmina 1)

2011/2012 season: 48 (Jonas 30 Adrian 1 Edis 6 Jazmina 10 Rima 1)
2010 / 2011 season: Heaps
Honey Tally:This season: 30 litres so far.
2011/2012 season: 49 Litres
2010 / 2011 season: 34  Litres
That's about 1 sting per Litre.

Photo below is taken before her whole face swelled up, eye closed.....be careful out there, folks. She took it bravely, a real trooper.

So, after all that, once the sun went down and the bees were all tucked in bed, time to extract. Dad came around with a bottle of vino, gave me a hand.  Tedious business, and very sticky. And cleaning up after is a real bastard, at the end of the night. BUT, just over 30 litres in all, about 7 from Baghdad, the rest from Other and Metropolis.

Here's the setup.
Spinner at the back. The blue esky had the uncapping setup on it. Two supers and the plastic tub, full of frames ready to spin

Edis gave it a bit of a twirl.

Honey gate at the bottom of the spinner, and a simple two-stage mesh filter. It clogs up pretty quick, the trick is to let it settle for as long as possible first, the bubbles and debris float to the top, you scoop them off. That's the logic with the gate, collect it from the bottom where it is cleanest, the less-clean stuff comes out last.


Uncapping with a hot knife, the bits we sliced off ended up contributing about 4 litres, catching in a rough mesh and then filtering it at the end of the process.

Shed view, bottom left is the uncapping tray overflowing with sliced-off cells, dripping into a tub. The bulk of the honey was all kept on the stacked little table at left, with the little water containers to keep the ants out. Always a risk, and you try to keep everything clean, difficult when you are dealing with honey. Went through about ten tea-towels, and several clean buckets of water for wiping, rinsing.
Yeah, and the couch. No shed is complete without one.

Later on, filtering. Ideally, you do this at the same time as extracting, but I had just too much honey to deal with in one night. in one hit. This is the day after. Also, I had to return the stickies (just-spun frames) to thier respective hives, fill the empty spaces in the hives and let the girls fill them up again. Which is a whole 2 other stories, but that's enough for tonight.


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