Monday, July 6, 2009
Today we robbed most of the bees (the Byrdstown hives and the ones here at the farm) using the brush method as well as the blower method. We prefer the blower method if things are set up just right. The brush method is very suitable for just a few supers if you only have a couple. We decided not to use the fume board to extract the frames because it was a cool day. Fume boards work better in the hot sun. We were happy about the cool weather today especially as James and Greg were trying to pull the heavy, honey laden supers up the hill!
We found one hive that was interesting. In June, we found brood in the top of the hive, so we shook all the bees down to the bottom and inserted a queen excluder. Upon our arrival today, we were surprised to see that the brood had been maintained and the bees on top had created their own queen. So we ended up with a complete functioning hive on top and bottom.
Also, we noticed the dire need for some new equipment. It seems the bees have conspired to find every hole in the bee suit and gloves. Greg came away with no less than 25 stings today. Perhaps if the sun would have been shining, there would have been less bees in the hive on the attack!
So with several rogue bees still hanging around the basement, we began to spin the honey. This season we got a new uncapping knife, which all in all works pretty well. To make the knife worth our while next year, we plan to put only nine frames in the super rather than ten. Nine would allow the bees to build the comb a little deeper allowing us to uncap it easier. Also it seems to burn a little hot (by the looks of Greg's finger anyway!) . Then we used the fork to uncap what didn't get uncapped with the knife. Then we put them in the spinner. The key is to uncap them REALLY good. If not, it seems no amount of spinning will get that honey out.
The Byrdstown honey is darker and is most likely poplar honey. It is slightly stronger than what we have here in Cookeville. The Cookeville honey is lighter and most likely a mixture of locus, clover, and popular. It has a much milder taste.
We still have several frames from the Cookeville apiary to spin out tomorrow. We have three more locations to rob before the honey flow is over.
In the pictures you see the super transport (a full super can weigh over 50 pounds), the new uncapping knife, and the spinner at work.