Thursday, September 16, 2010

Boiling Bees

Not really, but that's what it looked like.

Stella had fall honey ready to extract the other day. We usually set everything up on the porch, leisurely scrape the wax cappings from the frames, set them down into the extractor, spin them out, watch the honey drain into the strainer pans, ooh and ahh at the beautiful color...

Not this time. I was working up at the barn and came to the house to find Stella and our friend Jane in the kitchen frantically removing bees from...well, everything. They were everywhere! Here the bees are cleaning up honey drips in the pan the cappings are scraped into.

Cleaning up a spot of honey on a cotton towel.

I'm guessing due to the lack of rain and few flowers blooming, the bees are in a frenzy. We carefully checked the 2 big boxes on each hive (the ones the bees live in and store the honey they need for winter) and all felt heavy enough for this time of year. The honey we take from them is excess honey they store in the small boxes on top. I think the bees that swarmed the porch were from a less productive hive out by our garden - not Stella's bees from up on the hill.

I had fun trying to capture the movement of bees with a slower shutter speed. Click to biggify.

Most of the bees were orange and black, but notice the mostly black bee on top of the pile? I'm not sure if that's a different strain of domestic honey bee or a wild bee from somewhere else.

A bee mosh pit in the top strainer pan. You can see the bits of wax as they dig into the pile to make sure not a drop of honey is missed.

Working on the bottom as well.

Doesn't it look like a boiling pan of bees? Sadly I'd turned my microphone down and you can't really hear how loud they were.

It took them a couple hours, but by dark everything was spotlessly clean and everyone was back in their respective hives. Just amazing!

We are going to start offering some sugar syrup to the garden hive. The other small honey supers on the rest of the hives are just about ready to harvest. We'll check them once more in another week or so and take what we can and feed the rest back to the bees.

If we could just get a little rain, we might still get some fall flowers - asters and goldenrod are the biggies - and everyone could get back to normal. If not, we'll cook up some syrup and return the favor. No one goes hungry around here, especially if Stella is cooking ;-).


DayPhoto said...

How very, very interesting. I'm so glad they were able to get full. You ALWAYS give me a treat when I visit, and this was ever so sweet.

I wonder if I should feed the wild bees here? Or would it harm them?


thecrazysheeplady said...

I would think with as much rain as you've had that they have plenty to eat out there? If you wanted to feed them just for fun though you could get a hive feeder and just set it out somewhere and see if anyone showed up. As they are just coming in to eat, they won't hurt anything/anyone unless you accidentally smash one or something.

Gayle said...

Obviously there is a big difference between honey bees and hornets as the ones living in the nest in my roof outside my door dive bomb us and sting as we go in and out. It's frustrating to say the least.

You are so brave to mess with bees. Such an interesting hobby. Here's an article about what one of the local beekeepers here in Alaska is doing....

Alice said...

Happy that you shared your overflowing bounty with the bees :-)

Tammy said...

Wow. That is amazing. A little frightening, but amazing. They do act very desperate don't they? Hopefully you'll get some rain to even things out. We've gotten another 3 inches over the last few days to add to the 8 we got last week! We did have a terribly dry August though. Thanks for sharing these pictures.

Nancy K. said...

Have I ever told you that I am totally, completely, overwhelmingly PHOBIC when it comes to bees?

Gotta go take a shower now ~ my skin is crawling!


Heather said...

I wish I had such good dish-washers!

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

This is really fasanating!! With the shortage of bees we are thinking of getting some, and I can tell by your post that we still have a lot to learn!

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

Great bee photos. We're harvesting now too in Ontario. Our golden rod and asters are in bloom, but not a lot of rain--except for today. I'm feeding sugar syrup as well.

Verde Farm said...

Wow, you have many talents I see. I am amazed by these photos. Bees are so mysterious and we really want to start bee keeping in the spring. We are only beginning our education but I am so excited about it. Thanks for sharing this cool post!
Amy at Verde Farm

flowerweaver said...

This is what it was like when I was accidentally feeding my bees externally next to their hive with the sugar syrup. I think I was feeding every bee in the county! I since learned if you are going to do this it should be at least 150 yards from your hive so that there isn't a bee war.


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