I don’t try to harvest honey until about a month or so after the text books advise. This is in order to allow the bees, when they reduce their brood nests, to bring down honey from above, as well as what comes in afresh, and pack it around the nest for winter stores. Then, anything left above the queen excluder is mine!
I mentioned a few days ago that wasps had been raiding the lovely, good tempered, bees at Frogmore. Having put on a clearer board at the time, I went back next day to take what was left. The clearer board, with a pair of Porter escapes, hadn’t worked very well as there were still scores, if not hundreds, of bees and wasps in the supers.
I took them anyway, moving the boxes in stages down the paddock and leaning them against a fence post while I moved the other one, thus losing lots of the bees (and wasps) on the way. Then they went in the back of the car and, every hundred yards or so down the track to the village, the back door of the estate car was opened to allow the bees, trying to get through the glass, to escape. I drove back to the farm to repeat the exercise until practically all were gone.
A day or two later, I went through the same performance with a hive of the stroppiest bees (followers too) that I have, in a wood at the back of a big house at Broadmayne. I put the hive there a couple of years ago, having been consulted by the owner about a colony that was occupying a wall of their house, using an entrance under the gable. That lot died out but the bait hive was occupied by a colony that has given me more stings than all the rest put together! They are followers, too, for up to 100 yards, almost back to the house. As there are kids living there, I try to time my visits to when they are probably at school.
This hive had a very heavy super, so I slipped a clearer board with a lozenge shaped device under it and came back next day. The super was almost as full of bees as the day before! I noticed that there were no wasps to be seen and wonder whether the defensiveness of the colony had deterred them.
I did the same thing as at Frogmore, moving the super in stages to the car, but this time getting a few stings along the way. Then came the drive down the drive, over a quarter of a mile, stopping every so often to de-bee those that were cluttering the back window.
At one stop, a chap came across from an adjoining field for a natter. He said that he had had bees in the chimney of his house for about 15 years and that they threw a swarm most years. That is probably where my bees and those that had been in the big house came from!
When, eventually, I got all the supers out of my car, I stood on the bathroom scales and lifted, in turn, each of the supers plus an empty one. I will be lucky to get as much as 5 pounds of honey from each of the supers from Frogmore, but maybe 2 stones from the Broadmayne super.
The supers are now stacked up above my warming cabinet but it won’t be turned on for a couple of weeks as I have a holiday coming up!