Another Two Gallons

The girls have been very productive, indeed... and I've been kind of remiss about actually recording everything.

In July, on the 25th, I actually pulled four frames, or one and a quarter gallons of honey, from the bottom of the two supers I had on the hive, and I swapped the positions of the supers, so that they'd work on the "lower" and half-full super before they worked on the upper one. John and I scraped clean the four frames, and the next morning I put them all back in to let the bees clean them off.

Then, this month, on August 12th, I pulled the other four frames from the upper super, and found out that they'd half built and filled one of the empties I'd put in in July. The super that was now on the bottom was about three-quarters full. So I pulled three full frames out of that, and left the five half-filled ones, putting the half-built frame from the upper into the lower, and added the two frames that were still empty from the upper super.

Then I took the upper super completely off the hive, to help the colony compact a little before fall. I'm going to have to have all the supers off before winter and before I do my mite treatment, so it's better to get them used to a little smaller space. But I also wanted to shuffle through the frames as we emptied them to allow the bees to clean all the honey off of them.

It took us two days to get the first three frames cleaned off, and by then, the girls had actually built comb up on one of the 'empty' frames. They'd also completely filled the top super with bees, who were busily building and filling! Agh. I pulled that frame out, put it by the entrance to let the bees empty it of the uncapped honey, and I managed to shuffle in the three empty frames, and then after taking a night off to Estes Park, we came back and I shuffled in two more of the empty frames. Tonight we're finally emptying the last two, and I hope to get those in tomorrow, along with the wax built one, hopefully for the other one that was in there from yesterday, but it's been a little crazy going in every day. They don't seem to mind that much so long as I don't leave the hive open too long.

And it looks like two more gallons of honey.

I also saw some hornets and wasps stealing honey and trying to rob the hive, but the girls were having none of that. I've left a lot of things open for ventilation for the summer, but with the nights getting longer and cooler, I'm probably going to remove the summer shims from the inner cover and put in my usual winter popsicle sticks that just allow ventilation and no actual insects through. The girls have taken to lining the inside of the outer cover and completely covering the bottom of the inside cover with bees just to defend those slots. So I'm going to close those up tomorrow. I think that, also, the two brood boxes aren't quite meeting, but I also have a single knothole in the back of the hive that the girls have been using as a second entrance for the last two years.

I had a lot of fun just squashing wasps and hornets when they touched down on the honey in my empties tray and as soon as I could ID 'em, I'd squash 'em.

Anyway... that's more than four gallons of honey this year, or something like 50 pounds already. That's a LOT of honey. I got 40 all together last year. So the "common knowledge" that a colony usually does better its second year is already true for this one.
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I always had an intellectual understanding and appreciation of honeybees from my Biology and Animal Behaviour classes, but listening to you and your day-to-day encounters with "the girls" had given me a whole new perspective, and I love reading about it. If we lived closer I'd be on your back steps with a fistful of bills & maybe some beadwork or a necklace, hoping to con you out of a little bit of that precious 50 lbs, so I could enjoy the fruits of your (and their!) labors! ^__~

I rarely do much yard work anymore because my lupus photosensitivity has gotten so pronounced, and frankly I've yet to meet an adequate sunscreen I won't sweat off completely within 5 minutes of an avg Tidewater VA summer day. But a dear friend planted some mint for me this year, & last yr the hubs & I planted 2 blueberry bushes & a Turkey Fig, and I do try to keep an eye on those at least. I got into a spontaneous frenzy of weed-pulling (f*^€ing crabgrass and poke!) last Sunday - w/o my gloves - (I know, stupid, yes?!)- which ended with about 10 mins. of yanking out all the dead stalks of Pampas Grass that has been poking me in the rear fron this monstrous mess of mostly dead PG which I'd cheerfully take a bush hog to, had I access to one! Anyway I was shoving the last spear into the mostly-hollow heart of the beast when I felt something which at first I the was one of the millions of razor sharp edges of the plant. As soon as I yanked my hand out I realized wwhy it hurt so bloody much - this honeybee was not happy either, and had her stinger imbedded as far into the side if the 1st knuckle of my right index finger as she possibly could. I felt terrible - for her and myself both - I'd really much rather have gotten a wound from the damn PG than a sting from an innocent honeybee. I managed to extract the stinger and bee intact, but by the time I got back inside it was swelling & angry. I was mainly relieved not to have full-blown anaphylaxis, since I'd not been stung since I was 17 (same hand, close to the same spot, oddly enough) and my immune system clearly ain't what it used to be. But ice, elevation, an extra painkiller or two, and some creative whinging got fme thru the worst of it, which was prolonged be a few days flare-up of my lupus - which may or mat not be restated to the stingy- who knows? It's actually still a little swollen & tender at the sting site. At any rate, I thought of you, you being my only freeing with any knowledge of bees. If I'd had your phone #, I'd probably have called you to see if you had any sage advice, beyond "wow, that was really dumb - don't do that anymore!" ;)
I'm very very glad you didn't go anaphylactic!! I know that scare myself, and I've been stung for even stupider reasons. You did what I do when I get stung, too, ice, elevation, painkillers and much whinging... The shots help keep it shorter for me, but yeah... I should give you my phone number, too!! Since you were so kind to give me yours.

I shall have to send you some honey with the wax, when it's cooler. It's very tasty stuff...
OMG, I'm drooling already at the thought..... I LOVE honey, especially when I know where it came from, that it's from happy, pampered bees, that it hasn't been adulterated by some conglomerate with high fructose corn syrup, etc. I honestly think it's underrated when they do those "nature's superfoods" lists - and I would eat SO MUCH more of it than I do if I didn't have to be mindful of my blood sugar.
But I ration my sweet treats carefully, and avoid HFCS entirely, and white sugar almost completely, and in return I do have some good honey and maybe a little maple syrup or coconut palm sugar every now & then - but honey is #1!

I must tell you (and oh jeez, I hope I haven't already told you this... My memory- aieee*headdesk*) anyway, several years ago, I was having very bad chronic gastritis and GERD - even after years on the max doses of both Zantac & Prilosec, I had gotten to where even my "safe" foods - brown rice, yogurt, bananas - left me in pain and heartburn-y for hrs. Then I read how the proton-pump inhibitors deprived the body of calcium with prolonged use - and shortly thereafter got a bad fracture of the tibial plateau, simply from slipping in a wet tub (I didn't even fall, just twisted sideways.) Oh, and I've recently been told I have osteopenia, which I also largely blame those drugs for. I'm not the classic body type for osteoporosis, nor does it run in my family on either side.

That was it, I dumped the drugs, and tried what a knowledgable friend had recommended: 2-3 tbsp a day of a high-phenol manuka honey. Within a week I was seeing some improvement, and within a month I could eat things I hadn't been able to eat in years. I still always have it on hand, in case my tummy acts up, or for burns, scrapes, etc. I'm normally somewhat skeptical of a lot of alt.medicine topics, but I'm certainly sold on that one!

You must let me know your price for the honey & wax, plus the postage. I know from your journal how much hard work and love every oz. of it represents, both for you and your girls! You know, I still feel guilty about that poor bee that stung me... I didn't smash it or anything, but it just seems unfair they should have to lose their lives every time they defend themselves. Plus, I feel like these days every honeybee is a precious resource. If it had been a yellow jacket, I'd probably have gleefully pounded it to dust (which doesn't make me a very good Buddhist, but neither did that hamburger I just had for dinner... Oh well.)

Sorry to spam your post with such long comments! It's just so good to talk to you - I've missed you! (And I have SO much of "Twin Souls" to catch up on now, which I'm really looking forward to :-) !!!)
Oooo... I didn't know that! And you didn't tell me. That's really great that the honey helped so much!

Yeah, rationing the sweets is a good idea on the whole, and I am careful about how much honey I eat, except when we're doing all the gathering and the drips are just everywhere. *laughs*

I'll definitely let you know how much the postage will be, and how much things are before I ship anything, just so you can approve. *hugs* And the girls and I thank you!

I've missed being here, too. I think once summer is done, and I'm more healed up from things, I'll be able to write here more. That would be nice...
I adore hearing about your girls. I had no idea that bees would fight off wasps and hornets, but it makes sense now that I think about it.

Also, that's a LOT of honey! I may have missed it, but do you do anything with the beeswax itself?
Good question, about the beeswax - I'd been meaning to ask that as well.

Liralen, if you sell the wax, I'd love to buy some once the weather's cooled off enough to ship it safely. My hubby & I both use it to stiffen & protect the thread & sinew we use in our Native American beadwork & quillwork. The junk they sell as "beeswax" for that purpose in fabric stores is worse than useless - it's mostly paraffin (ugh.) I can order decent wax from specialty catalogs, but I'd much rather help support your girls with my money! ♥
Oh! That would be wonderful! I really don't know what to do with it. *laughs* I'm mostly melting it off the remaining honey in the comb, and I have chunks of it that isn't particularly well filtered. There's still crumbly brown bits on one side of it, but most of it is pretty clean and yellow. I'd be happy to send you some!
I don't, yet. I'm still figuring out what and how. *laughs*

I can do a few little votives with it, but people have been asking for chunks of it for moustaches, lip balm, and other things.

The girls are amazingly well organized about protecting their home.

And studying them from close up is fascinating, and I think I can see why Holmes kept them.

Yes. That is a LOT of honey. Whew. Luckily, a lot of people seem to want to buy it, and the money's all going to the girls' equipment and upkeep... so that's all cool. It's nice to have a hobby that actually pays for most of what I'm putting into it. Yay!
Oh, it's so lovely that it's paying for itself!

...maybe I ought to set up a fudge/honey exchange with you, or something. O.O :)
:-) It would probably be quite the equivalent on the shipping! *laughs*

It really is nice that they're pretty much paying for themselves. A lot of the keepers are having a hard time making ends meet.