Last week we talked about Preparing The Hive For Harvest. And in my Beginning Beekeeper’s Series we’ve talked about everything from becoming NewBEES, obtaining your bees, caring for them and more. Links to all of those articles are below for your convenience.
But now? Oh now we’re going to take that sweet honey from frame to bottle!
We have several hives in our small apiary. Here in NE Texas, we typically harvest our honey around the first week of July. It’s hot, sticky work that’s for sure. But there’s much more to getting that honey harvest than just strolling out to the hives.
Spring is an exciting time in beekeeping. The bees are finally able to get out of the hive & forage from the blooming plants. The hives grow by leaps and bounds this time of year too. It’s a good time to split the hives to keep them from becoming too crowded.
But spring is also a time when some hives will swarm. Sometimes when we capture a swarm we put the bees into an empty deep hive box with frames and let them get busy. But sometimes so many swarms are caught that we don’t have a deep hive box available. Let’s make some 5-frame nuc boxes for temporary housing for them. They’re super quick to put together & you can build four nuc boxes with a single sheet of plywood!
RancherMan & I have a small apiary. The bees are fascinating creatures & invaluable in making sure my garden gets pollinated. Plus they offer up that sweet delight during our summer honey harvest as well. In our area of NE Texas the honey harvest is usually done the first week in July.
But we don’t simply decap the honeycomb to get to the honey. We go ahead & scrape the frames down. After we extract the honey we turn our attention to that gorgeous natural beeswax!
Around the end of March RancherMan & I start thinking about splitting our beehives. Splitting a hive accomplishes 2 things – it expands the number of hives in your apiary. (yea!) But it also gives the bees a little elbow room by putting empty frames in each hive allowing for expansion.
You see, if the bees get to thinking things are too cramped, they’ll swarm looking for more space. And that’s something no beekeeper wants since there’s been lots of time & effort into managing their apiary. We did our splits by swapping empty frames for full ones. It was easy!
Sunflowers & honeybees – Two of my favorite things in one shot!
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Busy as a bee! Our hives have increased this year thanks to us performing splits and capturing swarms. All our bees are busy, busy, busy these days! During the spring when everything was abloom they had all they could harvest. Those girls were coming & going from the hives with pollen pockets full!
But now that the heat of our NE Texas season is starting to set in the blooms are not quite as prolific. Oh there are still wildflowers blooming, and the bees are all having a hayday in my garden alright. But with the fading blooms and the fact that we’re trying to boost some of those smaller swarm hives, RancherMan & I decided perhaps we need to give them a little feed. There are many ways to accomplish this, here’s what we do:
Our apiary started out with two established single-deep beehives. That first beehive stand was built using repurposed 2″x6″ boards that were 6-ft long from raised beds that we tore out. We added a deep box to each hive last year & saw those bees safely through the winter.
This spring we split them into four hives. Now we needed another hive stand so we built another like the first from purchased 2″x6″ boards. Then we caught not one, not two, but FOURBee Swarms this spring! (I KNOW, how exciting!!)
But these swarms are being caught & brought to our fledgling apiary faster than we can build stands. RancherMan decided to change direction. He wanted to assemble the next stands using concrete cinder blocks and 4″x4″ 5-ft long wood posts.