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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Too much honey

We robbed the hive again. Things were getting a bit crowded in the hive and they were part way through capping the last two frames. The process of robbing is quite quick.

The slowest part is getting the smoker working just right. In the end it received  good clean out and some different burning material. In the past the easiest material has been hessian. Old hessian bags that were frayed and useless for anything else. They burnt slowly and no problems were experienced. Then of late it would stop smoking just at the critical moment. As it turns out it was just one of the bags which for some reason had different properties. Going onto another bag solved the problem.

The fast method for me (with one hive) is a wheel barrow with some newspaper on the bottom and an empty hive box in the barrow. Calm everyone down with a little smoke and let them get preoccupied with taking aboard some honey in case the hive needs to be abandoned. They are very quiet girls anyway so there isn't much fuss.

Out with each frame and a quick couple of shakes in front of the hive to fling the bulk off the residents onto the ground. Then with the soft long bristled bee brush the last few come off and the frame goes into the box in the barrow. Repeat seven more times and then back to the cave. Surprisingly very few bees stay with me. At the cave each frame is inspected and any last bees brushed off before the frame is transferred into a plastic container which is then relocated into the cave.

A reasonable haul

A close up
The capping knives in hot water

The honey extracted and being filtered a second time via a fine mesh

The mess to be cleaned

Removing the caps is getting easier - practice makes perfect. It all goes well  although at one point the plug in the extractor popped out and some honey flowed onto the floor. But not too serious an amount and easily cleaned away. The yield is less than last time but more than we want. The clean up starts. First putting the stickies back into the hive (gently). The four that went in an hour ago are already looking transformed. In go the last four and the girls have some housekeeping to do and more space.

This is a brood frame that was moved into the honey super hence the brown stain. The wax ix stained but not the now extracted honey

An extracted frame which has not served in the brood chamber

Our clean up starts. The extractor fits (just) into the largest sink we could find. This is in our cave. It is a recycled laundry tub. The clean up is really just hot water to melt the honey and any wax bits. The drain pipe goes into the Orchard to feed some happy trees. Then the comb knives and the knife holder. Then all the work surfaces and any empty used containers. This is the golden rule. Cleaning takes more time than anything else.

The capping's after draining
The capping's are melted down with some water. A process repeated a couple of times as the molten material is filtered to get out the gross material and honey until finally a nice plug of clean wax results.

Tomorrow the next step starts. Making creamed honey.

Nothing to do with honey extraction but we managed to knock out a sourdough brick while all else was in progress


  1. What would we do if honey didn't dissolve in water!

    Be careful using those old hessian sacks for smoker fuel as in a previous life they may have been used for chemically treated seeds or something. One of the best smoker fuels is old dried cow pats. Not the sloppy ones when the cows are eating green juicy grass, but the autumn or winter ones that are solid. Last years ones from amongst the trees are ideal. They are just dried compressed grass after all…. and little lumps last for ages in the smoker with a pleasant smoke.

    And you don't need to wait till the combs are fully capped over. Half to three quarters capped is fine, especially in hot weather when they will have dried the honey down.

    Nice looking honey though. Can we get samples?


    1. Hi David, Excellent idea using cow pats. I will try that next time as we have no shortage of dried pats. As for samples drop in any time we have plenty. Will probably have to offer you some cheese and wine as a precursor to cleanse the palate.

  2. Gosh, those frames look clean and full. I really must get more into our (my!) hives instead of leaving it up to the husband.