_My good friend Hernan invited me to join him and any of his mentees for his last honey extraction of the year. The weather was unusually cool, but I got there bright and early-ish anyway. He had two hives with honey to extract. We started with a hive that last year looked like all would be lost this year when Hernan found a swarm cell in October. Surprisingly it was one of his biggest honey producers this year. Here is Hernan with the hive after a couple honey supers had been removed. Check out all those bees!
_Then Herman's mentee from Mecklenburg's Bee School 2011, Bill, showed up. Hernan wasted no time putting Bill to work.
_We forced the bees down with an all-natural spray of herbs and oils on a fume pad. We spritzed the pad and put it on top of each exposed super, then waited a few minutes for the bees to retreat down a level. Then we removed each box or "super". We loaded these into a wheel barrow and capped them with cardboard to keep any extra bees out. They can smell honey a mile away, no kidding.
_Here's a closer view of the hive. The bees were "bearded" out all morning while we worked. Also shown is the fume board, to the side of the hive.
_Once we got the supers off, Hernan showed us his trick for removing bees that remained out of the supers. Enter the leaf blower. Fast, humane, and effective.
_Once free of bees (well, mostly) we hurried the supers into the garage and closed the door to keep the bees out. Here Hernan shows us a "wet frame", which is a frame full of honey that hasn't been capped yet.
_What the hot knife didn't get, a small scratching tool took care of.
_Then Bill and I switched off on uncapping duties.
_Next the frames were loaded into the extractor, and then were spun out. The centrifugal force slings the honey out of the frames of uncapped comb.
_Slow and steady on the extractor, and soon the liquid gold was flowing.
_Soon a constant stream was pouring, and eventually Hernan extracted another 70 pounds or so of honey.
_After the few hours of work, we took the frames and supers back to the hives. Hernan placed them eight feet or so from the hives. In no time the bees got to work, sucking up every drop of honey available, doing our cleaning for us. Hernan sent Bill and I home with a fresh jar of honey we just extracted. It is soooooo good!
Now I know what's in store for me extraction-time next year when Boris and Natasha bring home the gold!
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Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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