Beekeeper diary: honey harvest

One of the many great things about beekeeping, is the beekeeping community are very generous with their knowledge and time.  We always offer our time to Jeff to help out where we can as a way to thank him for his help and it also means we can get hands-on experience at beekeeping.

Today we travelled about 30 miles across the countryside, to a secret location! One that is home to a borage farm (borage flowers are loved by bees and the nectar produces the most delicate, light honey).  The borage had just been harvested by the farmer and it was time to harvest the honey.  The glorious golden frames, thick and heavy with capped borage honey is the most wonderful sight!

The bees that Jeff keeps are known as Italian bees. They have a good temperament and we were so surprised at how calm the bees were as we gently removed surplus frames, using a soft brush to ease the bees back into the hive.  We used a smoker to help calm the bees.  But given that we removed 50 frames, from the row of hives, the bees were not really bothered by our presence. Fifty frames may seem like a lot, but we left plenty of honey in each hive and replaced the supers with empty frames.

As the winter approaches, the colony will die away, leaving a core colony known as “winter bees” that will stay with the queen in a tight rugby ball shape, keeping the colony warm.  Supers are removed from the hive to create a smaller space which helps the hive stay warm and compact.

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