Autumn harvest

By | August 17, 2012

Around August, honey is being harvested.
The bees have been busily making honey all spring and summer, preparing themselves so they can sit around warming the hive over winter, and feasting on their summer’s labour.
The queen reduces the amount of eggs she lays, so there is more honey to go around with less mouths. Drones (male bees) start to get kicked out of the hive! Its not like they did much over summer anyway..

White capped honey covers this frame

White capped honey covers this frame

The frames start to show very different brood, pollen and honey store patterns. Honey should feature heavily, if the hive is not to starve during the winter months. Its also important to make sure you don’t harvest too much..
A colony will require around 20 kilos of honey to safely get through winter, without artificial feeding.

Here’s a few of my frames, showing the stored honey, and the reduction of brood in the hive.

This first frame is almost completely filled with honey. The white capping is the wax topping, sealing the honey in, preventing the honey from hydrating and fermenting. In this state, honey can keep indefinitely, and will be aromatic and fresh when opened. The cells at the bottom of the frame are likely to be converted nectar, which the bees will be dehydrating, before capping. Its surprising how heavy honey filled frames can be, with one of these frames weighing around 5 kilos.

Pollen features heavily in the middle of this frame, surrounded by white, wax capped honey

Pollen features heavily in the middle of this frame, surrounded by white, wax capped honey

 

The second frame has a lot of pollen in the centre, and is surrounded by white, wax capped honey. Pollen is a protein source, the honey is a carbohydrate or energy source, so its important to have stores of both.

 

 

 

This third frame has capped brood in the centre, with a beige capping. The brood capping must allow air to pass through as the bee develops, so the cap is made of a mixture of wax and pollen. the pollen lends the colour.

The beige capping in the centre is brood, or bee pupae

The beige capping in the centre is brood, or bee pupae

Also makes a tasty biscuit as the bee eats through the capping and emerges! Again, this frame is surrounded by white, wax capped honey.

You might see how hard it would be to harvest this honey, and not get it mixed up with bee pupae, larvae, nectar and pollen. That’s why you have a “super” on top of the hive contining super frames. A queen excluder (a kind of bee cattle grill), prevents the queen from accessing, and laying eggs in the separated upper super frames, so that only honey is stored in them. Also, the super frames are shallower than these brood frames so they don’t get too heavy, allowing easy hive management, and saving beeks backs.

* unfortunately, the capped stores shown isnt actually honey. I received my small colony in July, so they havent had a great workforce to build up this many stores in such a short time. Ive been helping them prepare for winter, feeding them a sugar solution. But the principle remains the same.


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