Oy. What a day…
Remember our recent attempt at harvesting the honey supers from the hives? I think I forgot to mention that a certain someone *cough*Steve*cough* had, um, misplaced the bee brush and hive tool the time before that. So, even if the honey had been capped, we’d have had a rather difficult time getting the frames out. We did try, with a butter knife and a goose (or turkey?) feather. The feather wasn’t so bad but the butter knife just wasn’t doing the trick.
And did I tell you that, at the last MVBA meeting, the club bought an extractor to loan out to those of us without one? And that I got to bring it home with me that night?
This week, I was reading Chris’ blog, Show Me The Honey, and he mentioned that the bees don’t always cap the honey in the fall. Hrm. So I was determined to get back out there today and just pull those suckers while we had one or two last good days before fall turns too cold.
Um, wait. What about the still-missing hive tool and bee brush?
Off we went to Dadant — Josie, Charlie, and me. (And so much for much in the way of school done today…)
$46 later (plus $30 in gas)…
I bought two each of the hive tools and brushes — and hid one set for the next time someone *cough*Steve*cough* loses them. I also bought a couple of filters while I was at it — a 600 and 400, per the bee dude’s advice. Those white things just sit on top of a five-gallon bucket and do their thing, easy peasy.
Once we got home, Charlie and I suited up and headed to the hives. (Okay, so maybe we spent a half hour trying to get the @#*&^#% smoker going first but we’re not going to talk about that.) We’d decided that, unless we saw some massive improvement in the Hans Hubermann hive, we’d combine it with one of the other two. Sure enough, it was still just… so-so. A beautifully perfect bottom brood box but the second one was next to nothing.
We pulled a half dozen decent frames off of the yard-swarm hive but there wasn’t much in the Fred McMurray hive super. Phhbbt. We managed to get few odds & ends of wax & bits of honey to add to the pile, at least. Then we took five frames, bees & all, out of the Hans Hubermann brood box and added it to the top of Fred McMurray and did the same with the remaining five frames, adding them to the top of the yard-swarm hive. (We layered some newspaper, poked a couple of slits, and sprayed with sugar water, between the two sets of bees. They’ll gradually eat through the newspaper and, by that time, will be used to each other and combine nicely into one. Or so the people who know these things say.)
Of course, halfway through this process, the @^%!(# smoker went out. All was peachy keen until I started moving the frames from Hans Hubermann. Man, were they ever cheesed off. Charlie and I had to walk away to catch our breath. Whew. Charlie only got stung once, lightly on the ankle. I got hit four times on the hands. Stupid smoker. I’m sure the cheesed off bees had nothing to do with the fact that, by then, my gloves were coated in honey and propolis, making me stick to everything in Creation, and killing bees left & right like some big, clumsy buffoon. We’ll just blame the smoker because it’s an easy scapegoat. And I hate it.
But looky! We got some honey to extract and some extra wax! Definitely not a record breaker but, hey, we’ll take what we can get.
We took apart the extractor to wash it out and Steve did a little Mr. Fix It (it was a scratch & dent clearance buy), and… Boy, what a pain in the butt that thing is to get put together. There’s a little doohickey on the inside that has to seat just right for the inner part. I had to go call Steve in to help because, by then, he was back outside getting ready to butcher some ducks. He got nearly as cheesed off as the bees before he finally got it seated correctly.
Nah, he didn’t really beat it with a hammer. He just really, really wanted to.
The kids and I managed to get the frames extracted, after “forking” the cappings off. Oh what a mess. I was getting so tired, I FUBARed the frames and ended up with a pile of wax chunks to crush & strain tomorrow. One had foundation but the others were all foundationless. I had planned on saving them back so the bees would have pre-built come for next year but I’m sure they’ll live without it. Besides, that means more wax for me, right?
I’ve got the extracted filtering into a bucket overnight and will deal with the other sticky comb mess chunks tomorrow. I’m pooped for today.