Busy bees

This week the bees have been working really hard. The long days mean they are out flying early and I’ve seen them still at work at 9:30 at night! The supers are starting to feel very heavy, but they are still working on capping the honey so it isn’t ready to take any yet.

When I took the roof off one of our home hives today I could see hundreds of bees packing nectar into the comb.

When I pulled out a frame it looked like this…

When honey is “ripe” the bees cap it with white wax, which seals it in and prevents any moisture or contaminates getting into the honey. I was impressed to see how quickly they have been working, it was just a couple of weeks ago that I’d put in this frame – back then it looked like this…

You can see that I have been using just a small strip of wax foundation as a guide for bees. They have built a complete comb, filled it and capped most of it!

All our home hives have several supers on at the moment. When I took the top layer off in one hive a small bit of comb that had been built between the layers of supers was pulled off. The picture below shows the bees springing into action and cleaning up the spilled honey within a few seconds – they don’t waste a drop.

6 thoughts on “Busy bees

  1. Jacky Gawne

    I am interested to see that you place just a small strip of foundation on your super frames, what is your reason for this? Also, do you take a complete super of honey or just the odd frame as you need it? Do you leave any supers for a winter food source?

    Reply
    1. Helen Rogers Post author

      I use a strip so that the bees build their own comb – I prefer to know where our wax comes from as far as possible. When it comes to harvesting we typically wait for most of a super to be ready – unless I’m taking honey for cut comb. Extracting is a time consuming sticky affair, so I try and get as much as I can from each session, otherwise we spend more time cleaning up than extracting!
      I typically leave any ivy honey on the hives, as it sets like rock and is an acquired taste. We use 14×12 frames, so I always make sure there is enough honey in the brood box.

      Reply
  2. Jacky Gawne

    Thank you, these are my first months with two hives and I am finding the amount of information available both useful and at times a little confusing., particularly with regard to the amount of honey that should be left for the bees in winter rather than giving a sugar syrup. I will continue to read.

    Reply
    1. Helen Rogers Post author

      Exciting times! I prefer to leave bees their own honey over the winter rather than feeding if possible… Obviously this depends from year to year. Every beekeeper has their own theories about everything!
      Best of luck with your bees

      Reply
  3. mike

    If you do not have a complete layer of wired wax foundation, what process will you use for extraction?
    I understand that extraction in a spinner requires the support given by a complete sheet of wired wax foundation.

    Reply
    1. Helen Rogers Post author

      We’ve found that if you spin them gently and flip the frames then they are fine. We produce cut comb from any frames that are not fully drawn.

      Reply

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