Sunday, April 13, 2014

Processing Honey

This is where it all comes from, collected in February, about 16 frames of honey taken.
The honey and comb were clipped out of the frames and dropped into the buckets.  Important note: be sure to have lids on the buckets or you will collect too many bees along with your honey.  I usually leave the lid on for a day or so and then it is easier to remove the bees that are still left in.  Later I move the comb a piece at a time to another bucket so I remove any bees.
Next job is crushing the comb.  I use a scrapper made for removing tar paper but anything with an edge will do. A good supply of rubber or throw away gloves is handy too.  You will get honey on everything.  If you have an ant problem, draw a circle around your crush area using Comet or other cleanser powder, diatameceous earth or kids sidewalk chalk.  Ants do not like to cross those barriers,  there are sharp edges on the tiny bits that bothers ant feet.

This is my filter system. The top filter has a double screen of two sizes.  I got it from Brushy Mountain Bee Supply.  I picked up the top bucket at a swap meet.  The bottom bucket came from LA Honey has the honey gate on it.   Both of them are food grade buckets, the orange ones are not, just generic buckets from Home Depot. 
The crushed comb and honey is poured into the double strainer.  It takes a number of pours to process all the comb.   In time there will be a lot of small comb bits blocking the honey flow in the bottom wire strainer, moving that around with a rubber spatula makes the honey pass on.  Below the metal strainer you can see the bottom of the top bucket has a number of holes to allow the honey to pass through.  The lid on the bottom bucket has most of the material removed except the outer edge so the top bucket can rest on it.  Draining the honey is a long process but easier if the weather is warmer.  When the top strainer is has all the honey drained off, I put it into another bucket with a cloth paint strainer clipped to the top.  Over the long term more honey will drain out and gets added to the white bucket.   This is not only to get all the honey possible but the comb is easier to deal with the comb later for wax melting when most of the honey has been removed.
The start of the drip.  Be patient.  It will get there.
This is the collected honey,  the foam on the top occurs naturally as it drains into the bucket.  There is nothing wrong with the honey.  It is still good and not fermenting.

This is the best part, bottling the honey.  I do mine over the kitchen sink.  As I do it more often I get better about not have too many drips and filling the bottle properly.
The reward for all the hard work, 27 plus pounds of honey.
A new method to melt wax.   Get some heavy mesh or wire cloth.  Fit it over a roasting pan, add an inch or so of water to the pan.  Put paper towels over the mesh, add the comb and put in an over at 200 deg or so.   Do not do this at high temperatures.   Wax is very flammable and you can have a fire in your oven.  If you are melting wax on your stove top, use a double boiler.
So much for new methods.  As soon as I started to melt the wax in the oven, my stove died and the oven will not light.(new stove arriving next week.)  Moved the operation on to the BBQ as seen above.  Sounded like a good idea but the wax attracted too many bees and made a new problem.   I finished up doing it my old way using a crock pot with water and a paper towel over the top.  Now I can add a bit of metal cloth to hold the towels up.  Put the crock pot on high and leave it, check occasionally and add more wax until done.  This works just like the roasting pan/over approach but it takes longer.

I may collect a bit more honey in September but it will be only a couple frames if the bees seem to have plenty more stored.   My normal harvest occurs in March but with a mild Winter I got a good start this year. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hive Inspection Febuary 2014

New Beekeeper Alyssa experiencing the joy of pulling a full frame of honey.
It was a slow blog year in 2013.  Due to legal restrictions we shut down the Backwards Beekeepers Hotline and bee rescues dropped to almost zero.   The calls are being referred to This is a great group in the Los Angeles area working to get beekeeping approved in Los Angeles.

It has been a non-wet and often Summer-warm winter.   The bees had reduced activity but never stopped working all winter long.  Given the weather, an early inspection and honey collection was the plan.   I had great assistance from Ceebs Bailey of HoneyLove and new beekeeper Alyssa Archambault. 

It is good to have an attentive student,
Top box #6 (medium) had some comb but no capped honey, This is #5.

Lots of cross comb but that is a beek problem not the bees problem, these bees seem to like it.  It is their house.
Maybe the prettiest frame and another right behind it.

Ceebs pointing out something to Alyssa.

Ceebs showing Alyssa how the comb on one side is off set to the opposite side by looking through the comb towards the sun.  One on one mentoring is the best.

Some of the bees were just too busy to pay attention to us.  They were very calm when we worked #6-5. When we got to #4 they were much more active but some smoke helped and they calmed down a lot as soon as that box was replaced on the hive.

My water source, a small water pump in pot filled with rocks.  I have never seen a bee on it since it was put up about two years ago but it is there if they choose to use it.
While we worked the bees were still doing their thing too.
Last year the #5 box was solid capped honey.  This year that box had a lot of cross comb and blank spaces but we made up for that by pulling 4-5 frames from #4.   Rain is predicted for tomorrow and that will be a good time to crush and strain the honey.  I will not have any bees lurking about in the rain.
Thanks again to Ceebs and Alyssa who made it a much easier and pleasant inspection and collection.   Welcome back to The Buzz In The Dale.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Buttocal Beekeeping or doing the jerk

The name comes from the video.  It can be awkward when trying to work a hive and shot a video, camera placement is critical.  Sorry, I messed that up this time.  I have a fine palm tree stump to place tools and cameras on but then I ended up working with my back to the camera.
Lots of butt shots, a whole lot of butt shots.  too many butt shots.

The last time I have checked my hive was in March of this year when I took out a full super of honey.   The bees have been quite active and I wanted to do a check before Fall and see how they were doing.  If all the boxes were full I would pull another one, mainly I wanted to know how their food supply was for the next few months.

I try to get another body to help, not that it is difficult but a honey free camera person is a blessing.  I miss having Randy around, he is off to colder climes for the rest of the year.  I need to enlist another photog and less honey on my camera.

I have no idea what is going on here but in the preview mode the video is going sort of fast forward and jerky. No clue if that is deliberate but the video runs about ten minutes in normal mode. 

This does not look exciting.  The first thing of note is how long it took me to break the super loose.  There is something in the area that makes very strong propolis.  It took me three passes to break out the super. 
Next I started to pull a frame of honey but there was a lot of cross comb.  The frame honey was straight there were a lot of connecting bits between frames.  I removed a couple almost empty frames from the end, collected the bits of comb and honey off of them.
Then I decided to go ahead and collect one full frame (about 2/3 honey) and that grew into another full frame.  That was it.  I left three to four frames for the bees.

This is a shot of the comb after it has been crushed and ready to drain.   Being a home hive and not a wild or old one the comb is nice and light colored.  It should make some very pretty wax.   At the end I show some old crushed comb from and old hive, dark and black.  You can still get clean wax from it but that wax tends to be darker.

The Buzz is back!

This is what I got from the frame & half of honey.  There is some very nice bright wax too but it is still melting down.

Crock pot wax melter with paper towel filter.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Honey In The Dale 2013

The new label designed as a Christmas present and I do love my bee.
Randy showed up unexpectedly on Friday.  He had been working out of town.  He asked about the bees and I mentioned needing to do an inspection.  The Spring bee activity had just picked up over the last few days.   Randy offered to give me a hand and then showed up the next day with a co-worker who had never been near a bee hive.  Randy and Chris check out the hive.  The number five super had some wax but no honey.  This is number four, it was loaded with honey end to end.

Some was dark from the last year but there were several frames that were very nice and clean looking. Some of this may have just been added this Spring.  The bees were extremely calm.  None of them made a single aggressive move towards us. Super 4 was jammed with honey and #3 looked to be the same.   We swapped out all the frames in #4 and left the rest of the hive alone.
I had chipped some wood off the super so we swapped it for another one.  After we cut the comb out of the old frames Randy put them back in the replacement super.

Randy is not a fan of his pictures so i made sure to add one for him.
Chris with a frame of new honey.  He was shocked at the weight.  We pulled out about 60# of honey & wax. 

The first of the honey draining.   This will continue until tomorrow some time.  There should be a nice amount of honey and it will sport the new label too.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Manhattan Beach Bee Rescue Adventures

It has been a oddly busy summer without many bee adventures.  Finally we have something to post.   Enjoy the videos shot with my Sony Bloggie.  Any problems are with the operator and not the equipment.

One of the grounds keepers for the City of Manhattan Beach contacted Backwards Beekeepers.   There were bees under a storage shed immediately adjacent to softball field and a soccer field.  The bees had not caused in problems but they needed to be removed. Susan Rudnicki and Ed Garcia showed up to do the job with an assist from new Beek Clint who planned on taking the bees.  I came along to video and bring the heavy equipment.. a generator and also do a lot of pontificating and offering unsolicited advice.

Susan checks out Clint's bee suit as Ed vacuums excess dirt and chalk from the floor. You can see the bee entrance below the door area.

Ed cuts the floor board and removes some screws.  We did not know how deep the hive went.  Notice Ed's fine bee hat and veil, he is very inventive.


Ed opens the floor to expose the hive. 
Please excuse the different video looks, some were embedded using Sony Bloggie and others came from YouTube. 

 Ed and Susan put the comb into frames with some
help from Clint and more useless advice.

Susan decided to leave the hive overnight to collect stragglers after putting another super over the comb frames.
Before leaving the hive was placed on a chair with cans & oil to cover the legs and keep the ants out. There were too many ants everywhere to leave the hive unprotected.. Clint or Susan would pick up the hive in the morning.
It seems we missed the queen and all of the bees left the hive and were clustered under a corner of the floor.  I was at a dog event most of the day and Susan could not reach me until late afternoon as I headed back home.   I loaded my generator, shop vac and the new Nuc-Vac and went to meet her and Save the Beach From The Bees!!

Susan has her first try at using the Nuc size bee vac.  She will be sucking up all the bees into a capture box.  This box has a screen top and board that slides in and seals off the bottom of the box once it is tilted and bees are off the bottom.  This great device was designed and made by Steve Shultz.  The strength of the suction is controlled by reducing or opening the hole on the top of the Bee Vac.

Mark from the City of Manhattan Beach opens the floor to give Susan more access to the  bees in the far corner.  Note that Mark has on shorts and sandals  These were the calmest and nicest bees I have run across, no one came close to getting stung.

Clint arrived and helped Susan to secure the hive boxes since they still have the comb and brood that were put in yesterday.  The brood may not survive with no nurse bees taking care of them last night but the comb will be put to good use by the bees.   The Nuc Capture box will be put into a net laundry bag when Clint takes it home.  As soon as practical he will dump the bees in the capture box right into the hive with the comb.  There is a pretty good chance the bees will stay since this is their comb and smells like home to them... or so we hope.

Another fine rescue pulled off by Backwards Beekeepers and the kids of Manhattan Beach have been protected from bees.  LOL

Monday, May 14, 2012

Honey Harvest May 2012

Over the last two and half years I have taken very little honey out of my hive, probably no more than two frames on two occasions.   When Laura and Randy helped me inspect my hive in March, ( there was lots of empty comb but no other problems in the hive.  Within two weeks the hive exploded with many more bees working every day.  With six hive bodies on the hive it was time to explore and harvest some honey so the bees would have plenty of room and not swarm.
Randy showed up again to man the cameras and offer the occasional third hand when I needed it.  Most important is the mental support of having someone else there to offer advise if you need it

Before going in I added a little smoke into the top two supers but the bees were incredibly calm during most of the operation.   The top super #6 had some comb and a few bees, it was set aside quickly

The smoke sent the bees down and we could see the good looking comb on all of the frames in super #5

This hive is a propolis producer in a big way every nook and cranny is always well sealed, sometimes annoying so when I am trying to extract a frame.
Gorgeous. This was the front end frame, things were looking up.  It was set aside on the frame holder to leave space to work the other frames
Frame #2 was just as pretty.  Note the Blue Gloves.   Randy found them at Home Depot.  They are thicker and more sting proof than standard yellow kitchen gloves but have a more tactile feel than the leather bee gloves, thanks Randy

#3 had less honey on the frame, typical for bees.  The honey goes on the outside of the hive and serves as insulation and food stores.

#4 was much the same, for the first pass through I slipped the frames back into the hive in the original order.

#6 had a few drone cells but was mainly honey. That is not a gang sign for bees.  In the video I was signalling that this was frame #7 and that is the last two of seven fingers flashed.

Opposite side of #6

#7 and the full frames of honey were back

I cut out the comb leaving a 1/2 inch or so along the starter strip and placed it back into the hive in the position where it was. I took four or five frames of honey out of super #5

Super #4 had frames that were sealed very tight.  The first frame separated when I was trying to get it out.  Once I got the #2 frame out I was able to remove #1 and then replace it with a new frame.

A couple of the frames had cross comb which came apart with the frame was lifted out.  I cleaned those up some and returned them to the hive.
The bees were still very calm, generally moving to the back of the hive and out of the way.  There was a large mass of bees around the entrance but they stayed there, very little aggressive activity with the hive

After collecting 3-4 frames of honey from super #4, I put the hive back together and hauled my booty off to the garage. I may be able to get it bottled today. 

Randy took some videos too but one was 21 minutes long.  I need to do some editing on the videos and will post them later.  That may take a couple of weeks, my normal net connection does not handle large files easily.  I have a MyFi hot spot that works well but I am close to my data limit for the month so any file transfers will have to wait until the next billing period.

A fine haul of original honey from The Dale with a big assist from Randy.