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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in the most strenuous part of my annual cycle with bees. After a disastrous year in 2020 (shocker, right?) where I lost almost all of my hives, I put out a thousand bucks to restart hives and ran 7 plus a nuc. First year hives rarely produce material amounts of honey, but I had a lot of drawn comb to give them so I had hope of getting something this year. Turns out we have had one of the wettest years on record through May 31 and had intermittent blasts of rain through June, so everything kept blooming and nectar flows were heavy (and may not be entirely over yet). All of my backyard 8 frame hives have 4 honey supers on each, which is just short of me needing a stool to reach them.

I think the flow is mostly over, so I started pulling supers today. The lowest producing hive gave me 3 full supers (left the partial 4th on the hive for now). One of the stronger ones yielded 4 completely capped and very heavy supers. I was working solo in 90F weather in a full suit, boots and gloves, so I left the other two for another day. I also have at least 2 hives at my other location that I will be pulling honey supers off, and all 3 might produce late summer honey. Gotta start spinning frames to see what I have, but I would not be shocked to end up with 300 pounds or more from the backyard hives alone. Wouldn't be shocked to get 500 pounds total this year. I plan to post updates as I go for the entertainment of one and all.

Last several years of production, ranging from 5 to 9 hives:

2016 - 261 pounds
2017 - 320.5
2018 - 492.5
2019 - 312
2020 - 181

When this is all over, it will be time to get the hives ready for winter. Mite treatments involve pulling the 80 pound top brood boxes off to put treatment strips in while wearing a full suit and a respirator. Remember, I do this for fun...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Beehives are generally divided into brood boxes and honey supers. The brood boxes are on the bottom and are where the bees live, store honey for themselves, raise new bees, etc. The honey supers go on top so that you can collect and lift off excess honey. Most beekeepers use a slotted grid of plastic or metal between the brood boxes and the honey supers that the workers can pass through but the queen cannot (she is too fat). That keeps the queen from sneaking up there and laying eggs in what you want to be just honey.

Will try with pics, but opsec and this is a fundamentally sticky endeavor which makes taking pics tricky.
 

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Surveyor, we had 2 strong, thriving hives last year but lost one hive to wax moths and the other hive to that horrendous cold weather we had in TX - that -9 degree daytime temp (actual, not wind chill) and consecutive other days, they just couldn't take it. Several other tasks are taking up our time this Summer on the ranch but we'll start up again next Spring and be more diligent. Our garden was really amazing and productive last year with all the pollenation.
 

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Pulled over 1000lbs from 7 colonies this year. Pace yourself, pick your days, some are cooler than others. Best flow here on the east coast in years. Scale colony bought in 32 pounds in one day (peak flow day) My complete beekeeping suit is a veil, bluejeans and a t shirt, on hot days, sometimes shorts. Makes life easier and beekeeping more enjoyable. Good job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Pulled over 1000lbs from 7 colonies this year. Pace yourself, pick your days, some are cooler than others. Best flow here on the east coast in years. Scale colony bought in 32 pounds in one day (peak flow day) My complete beekeeping suit is a veil, bluejeans and a t shirt, on hot days, sometimes shorts. Makes life easier and beekeeping more enjoyable. Good job.
I am allergic to bees, wasps and hornets. I get the shots, but for me it is full suit or give up the hobby.

We have a short growing season and hot, dry weather, so per hive yields are never that high locally. The most I ever got from a single was a bit over 100 pounds. I also run 8 frame hives rather than 10, which I suspect lowers my yields.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
OK, let's see if I can do some pics. First a pile of supers waiting to be processed,
373812


Next a capped frame. The frames are usually capped by the bees when I pull them and the bees put a capping layer of wax on hone that is 16% or less water content.
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Next a picture of my new extractor that has an electric motor. I used the 2 frame hand crank until it broke, and this is much better so far.
373814
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I uncap the honey with a heated decapping knife and them put them in the extractor. The extractor is basically just a simple centrifuge. Here it is spinning
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When you spin both sides of the frames all the honey flies out and hits the side of the extractor. Here is an empty spun frame
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The honey drains down to the bottom of the extractor which resembles a stainless steel bucket. I then open the valve and drain honey into a simple strainer that fits in a standard 5 gallon bucket. Once the filtration happens (remove chunks of wax, bee parts, etc.), we bottle from the bucket which has its own valve. Money shot:
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The wax ends up separated in the filter and I put it into a solar melter, which is a simple solar over type deal. The wax melts and ends up in the catch pan over a layer of honey. The honey tends to caramelize a bit in the melter, so the melter honey is what I use for baking. The wax that comes out of the melter requires a second purification via melting and pouring it through cheesecloth.
 

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Wow! Freaking awesome!
That answered a ton of questions.
I only have one unanswered question that has been on my mind.

Once the honey is fitered and processed, do you package it in small individual use bottles, larger gallon size jugs, or what?

I suppose a follow up question is, what then?
Do you sell the honey online or at a local farmer's market, or give some of it to friends and family?
I'm sure some of your harvest goes towards preps, or at least I hope it does.

Thank you for posting this info.
Real info and facts, something SB members excell at.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow! Freaking awesome!
That answered a ton of questions.
I only have one unanswered question that has been on my mind.

Once the honey is fitered and processed, do you package it in small individual use bottles, larger gallon size jugs, or what?

I suppose a follow up question is, what then?
Do you sell the honey online or at a local farmer's market, or give some of it to friends and family?
I'm sure some of your harvest goes towards preps, or at least I hope it does.

Thank you for posting this info.
Real info and facts, something SB members excell at.
I package in one pound plastic bottles (bought 200 this spring), mason jars (classico pasta jars are perfect for this, but use what I have), and when I run out of everything else I use buckets. Honey never goes bad, so it is an easy prep.

I sell some most years, but not last year. A bunch we use, and I give away a lot. Guessing I will stash a few buckets for long term storage this year.
 

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I have been thinking of starting a hive that i could likely trap. On more than one ocassion I have had swarms try and move into buildings on the property. My problem are the black bears that are everywhere these days. I would likely have to electrify the perimeter around it.
 

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Wow! Freaking awesome!
That answered a ton of questions.
I only have one unanswered question that has been on my mind.

Once the honey is fitered and processed, do you package it in small individual use bottles, larger gallon size jugs, or what?

I suppose a follow up question is, what then?
Do you sell the honey online or at a local farmer's market, or give some of it to friends and family?
I'm sure some of your harvest goes towards preps, or at least I hope it does.

Thank you for posting this info.
Real info and facts, something SB members excell at.
You can make mead out of honey.
 

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Just started this year. I don't expect to pull honey this year but will if I can. One hive was started early and seems ok but only 5 of 9 frames filled. Second hive got a late start and uncapped a starter frame I put in a super. I immediately put syrup on the feeder and they devoured a quarter of a pollen patty. They are working on the other half and going to town on the syrup. Think I screwed up and may lose that one. Going to inspect the other an check the pollen patties on that one. I'm using the Apimaye top and bottoms so the feeder is built in.

Hope the older colony hasn't started uncapping. Kinda disappointed but expected this for first year.

I'm in middle TN so it's hot and humid.

Sent from my SM-T860 using Tapatalk
 

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I certainly do. Also make honey beers and will try a carbonated hydromel on tap soon.
What do you do in the half hour of free time you have left during the day?

Does cold weather kill them? Surely you don’t start with new bees every year?

My wife wanted to try this, but with her bad back, if something went wrong, she would just have to stand there and wait till the bees got tired of stinging her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
You can make mead out of honey.
I certainly do. A
What do you do in the half hour of free time you have left during the day?

Does cold weather kill them? Surely you don’t start with new bees every year?

My wife wanted to try this, but with her bad back, if something went wrong, she would just have to stand there and wait till the bees got tired of stinging her.
They are cold hardy but you have to make sure they are healthy and have plenty of honey stored ato they make it to the spring.
 
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