Friday, September 28, 2012

Honey Season

Fall has arrived and I'm getting excited about collecting honey soon. I gave the colony two brood/honey chambers to fill up and get them through the winter.The first week in August I added a shallow super from which I will collect (a very nice term for what the bees see as stealing) honey from this compartment. This week I checked in on them to see how they are doing and fill up the inside feeder. Here's a peek:

This is the hive with the telescoping cover and screened inner cover removed.

I remove a couple of frames so I can see what I've got. This is a frame of capped honey near the center of the box.

You can see the wire "queen exlcuder" beneath the frames. We can't have her up here laying eggs where we want only honey. 

Here is a frame where they are busy capping the honey cells for storage.

Every place you see white is a cell full of honey they have capped 

Here's a closer look. You can see the honey in the cells and some of the bees still working...

They fill the cell with honey (which by the way is regurgitated nectar that the bees store in a special "honey stomach" which is separate from their real stomach). They then fan the honey to evaporate excess water. They do this until the water content is about 18%.  When it's just right (how do they know?) then they cap it with wax for safe keeping.

This is the end frame that you can see they have just started to work on. The embossed plastic gives them a foundation to work on, but you could actually hang empty frames in the hive and they would fill them out. The frames help keep things orderly for the beekeeper.

In this shot you can see that even in late September the bees are still bringing bright orange pollen (and some that is nearly white) into the hive from their foraging ventures.

One of my favorite shots from this inspection. A frame full of honey that they are just beginning to cap. I'm giving them a couple more weeks and then I'll check to see if they've capped all the frames. Then it will be extraction time. Stay tuned...

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