From the other side of ninety pounds of honey, I can laugh. [WARNING: if you're severely spider-phobic, you may want to skip the latter part of this post.}
The day I pulled the supers off of the hives, so many days ago, I had done many things to make the bees find elsewhere more congenial.
Those things seemed to work well.
So I yanked boxes off, added empty ones so the bees wouldn't feel crowded, and made shorter hives. Let me tell you, there are few things as fun as lifting 40-60 pound boxes awkwardly off of a high hive while standing on a makeshift stepstool. Fun times.
This was the heavy deep box. I expected it to yield a LOT of honey.
Just as a final measure, I did more almond extract and banging of the boxes, trying to send all of the bees back to their hive.
Once all boxes were in and stacked, though, it quickly became apparent that my efforts had been. . . partial. This looks like only a few bees, doesn't it? Imagine about 1,000 times more, and that is what my kitchen looked like.
In fact, it looked something like a bad horror movie. I had intended to strip down in order to harvest the honey, because it's so nastily sticky. Didn't take long for me to think not only should I put more clothes on, I should fully suit up again. I started with the cup-and-card method of trapping them and taking them out. Quickly, the futility of that approach became apparent. Then every window except one in the kitchen got darkened with towels, then I cracked one open, thinking the bees would clear the area. Surely they only wanted to go back into the hive? I decided to read and give them some space.
A half hour later, I checked back. Not only were my windows still black with bees, more bees were flying in from the outside, driven to the sweet smell of honey! The boxes were fairly boiling. Yipes!!
Some trial and error led to a fairly effective shoving them th3rough a cracked open window technique, and after another hour or so I could tell that there were fewer bees in the kitchen. I did have a tiny bit of help with bee removal:
Okay, okay, enough Big Spider. Here's a sleepy puppy to look at:
Taz is actually no help during honey harvests because she likes to lick the extractor and generally be underfoot. So does Mikey, come to think of it. They're really troublesome.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, the kitchen was pretty much bee-free. Denise had come over and provided moral support and helpful advice during the latter half of the adventure. The last step (before ordering take-out for dinner for exhausted me) was taping the space in this window so the Evil Bee Cluster couldn't get inside:
The next morning, they were still there, but colder! I was finally, finally able to scrape them into a cup and fling them into the entrance to their hive.
I still haven't removed the tape, though.
And that is how it took me four days to get ready to extract honey. So far, it's only been three days of actual extraction.
The electric hot knife, not the fancy kind with a thermostat, but the cheap kind that gets so hot it cooks honey into a smoking mass and has to be unplugged right in the middle of uncapping a frame, did in fact speed up the works. It takes off more honey but then the stainless steel strainer doesn't get clogged with tiny bits of scratched-off wax the way it does if I use the cappings scratcher instead.
Plus, it makes these cool bits of wax sculpture.
I ran out of jars at 39 pounds. There's another five gallon bucket full and ready for jarring, but a drive out to the bee store is in order first.
I'm going to buy a fume board and some bee-go too.
Harvest Monday, 24 November 2014
3 hours ago