A friend needed honey, and I was completely out. So the day before yesterday, I suited up and took a break from making enchilada sauce. The last time I'd checked, there weren't any capped frames in the hives, and also the bees had put brood up in the medium frames, just like this:
Honey on the outside, babies in the middle. This is an ongoing problem in the middle hive, the one I call the "boomer" hive. That thing is about six or seven boxes high, and just packed with bees. It's like they're only interested in making bees, not honey. I suppose that's a good thing, in the long run. But for now, either they're eating all of the honey they're making, or something. Big hive, not much to show for it.
The hive I thought wasn't doing well? Frame after frame of finished and lovely honey, at least 18 frame's worth. One boomer babyfull hive, one overachiever so far.
The final hive did okay. Some honey, not an unusual amount, but enough to pull off a super. It's my original Boomer queen, and she's still laying like this:
Comb after comb of solid brood (that's nectar in the little open spots). You don't have to see a queen -- I didn't yesterday in the two hives I went through thoroughly -- to see how she's doing. Queens are known by the brood they leave behind. I don't recall seeing eggs in any hive. Unfortunately, if I wear my contacts, my close vision is distorted, while I can see if I peer around my glasses. Oh well. Glasses are just one more thing to avoid in the middle of a sweaty hive observation.
Then, after toting almost four full supers into the house, I began extracting, and all was well until I realized that my nested strainers were clogging. Okay, I scraped with a rubber spatula, no draining. No problemo, I thought, I have a straining sock. I used it when I did crush and strain harvesting from the top bars. Retrieved it, filled it with the honey and wax, got a kid to give me a heavy weight to keep the straining sock above the honey in the bucket, good.
Good, that is, until a hole blew out in the side of the bag and the cappings and honey poured right on into the already-strained bucket. Rats. Next (okay, after a little bit of fussing) I considered whether the two straining bowls were reversed. They were, so I fixed that, but no draining. Hmmmm.
That evening was time to think like McGyver. Aha! Use a towel and colander to take the place of the troublesome strainers. I decided to go to bed and do that the next day. This morning, though, after setting up that alternate straining operation, we discovered as I lifted up the coarser strainer (600 microns instead of 400) that it was going fine. It's the tiny one that's clogged. Six hundred microns seems fine to me, so I just discarded the cloggy one and strained out what I'd done so far.
By this evening, I'd cleaned out 18 frames. Both sets of frames (one in a box, one with a box waiting) were returned to Overachieving Hive. Bees were pretty calm, as they always are if all I'm doing is giving something nice and honey-covered back.
There's only one remaining problem.
Slightly less than half the honey is filling up more than half of the straining bucket. I've never had this problem before, and I'm pretty sure it's not one I want to actually complain about.
Peeking in, however, makes me feel a little woozy. I have to bottle before straining the rest, and my older sister was encouraging me to approach the local high-end chef and offer him some. I don't know what sort of size container he'd like, so maybe I'll give them a quick visit tomorrow morning, if I don't lose my nerve. There's always the grocery store, friends, and our consumption to consider too.
And I think Ribbit wants some.
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