It’s been crazy in the apiary this season. I’ve extracted honey on 3 occasions already this year. The bees have been on the oil seed rape and if that isn’t removed instantly it sets in the frames and has to be melted out. That’s a job no one in their right mind can like!
I thought last week’s extraction would buy me a couple of weeks space. The rape is over and after initially intending to move the bees to another farm, to the mustard, I found a field of very young field beans just up the road from their present spot. I decide to leave them where they were and let them go hungry for a week or two while it grew. They were never going to starve but clearing out stored rape honey would have made space for the new without it being tainted. Left over rape honey tends to seed any other stores, making them set hard as well. There was always the hawthorn blossom to keep them going.
Anyway, down I go the following week to find my lovely ’empty’ hives full to the brim with ripening honey. Now when I say full I mean full. I struggled to lift them. I quickly put some undrawn super frames in each hive just to give them some work but I just didn’t have the equipment with me to remove it.
On the way home I pulled into said field. The plants might only be a few inches tall but it’s in full flower. Looking up you could actually see the dark line of bees flying straight from hives to beans. Impressive.
Fast forward 3 busy days, I haven’t had time to revisit but have been giving it some thought. I don’t need the honey, the bees will swarm if they run out of room, I could split them but I don’t need more bees, what to do? The solution seems to be in reducing honey storage and creating room.
Now many of my brood frames are quite dark this year. I replace some each spring but with the damp winter and the queen laying for longer more than usual are looking old. One hive in particular is very black and it’s hard to see tiny eggs in tiny cells in the dark!
I’ve made a whole brood box full of new frames. It’s DIY and I’m not good at that. ( I’m less than not good, I’m really rubbish. Patience and attention to detail are not my trademarks.)
They come in pieces, you put them together. It’s not rocket science but does help if you put on the sides the right way round etc.
Then you pin all the joins to hold it together under the weight of the honey. This little tool probably has a proper name but I’ve forgotten it. I call it my ram pin and it’s a boom. Otherwise I use a small headed hammer and hit my fingers, the side, holes in the wax etc.
I always pin the top, after prizing so many out only for them to separate under the weight of honey and propolis.
I made a box full and a few more. I’m thinking I might remove the honey supers on one hive completely and place a brood box full of empty frames straight onto the brood and a half already there. Let them draw it all, hopefully having the queen use it, before removing all the old brood frames. I’ll put the rest into both other hives just in place of frames already there.
Will it work? Who knows with bees. They can be a law unto themselves or total darlings. I guess thats what’s said about all women!!