Monday, 5 December 2016

A Small Bit of Honey

All of our bee hives have been here on our home block for the past month, making good use of the Blue Jane (Salvation Jane, Patterson's Curse) on the neighboring properties.

Yesterday we extracted a small amount of honey, but we discovered that some of the honey that was  in the hives when we checked last week at the workshop, had been eaten by the bees.  This indicates that the Blue Jane flow has finished and they are starting to get hungry.
They were aggressive and didn't want us anywhere near them, protective of what honey they had.

 For the first time ever, I felt the need to wear a smock with face covering while extracting the honey. A lot of bees remained attached to the frames when Brian brought them up to the honey shed, and there were lots of bees flying around inside the shed, which is not a very comfortable feeling.
I still managed to get a sting on a finger though.  I touched a bee that was crawling on the frame as I lifted it to put it into the extractor. Ouch..!!!
Brian laughs at me, he has no idea how painful stings are for me. They don't affect him, just a slight pin prick, and he gets a few stings every time he takes frames out for extracting.
I'm just thankful that I don't suffer  serious effects from the few stings I get. It could be much worse.

 We took what we could, only two frames from each box, leaving them enough food stores just in case there is rain or there is little in the way of flowers in the coming weeks.
Just as well we did, because it's raining today and preventing the bees from foraging.

Rain on a Summer day.

The Salvation Jane flow has finished, so we need to move the bees back to the other stand on the other side of the town.

Last night, just on dark, and when the bees had all gone into their hives for the night, Brian closed up the hive doors and secured, with webbing straps, the hives that sit permanently on the trailers. They are mostly two boxes high (a brood box plus super) and great care is needed when driving them to their new positions.
Each trailer has space for four hives, so we can move them to a new location with ease, without needing to lift them up and down every time. They are really heavy! 

 I had intended to get up early to help him move them this morning, and he had insisted it wasn't necessary, the boxes were all tied on securely so all he had to do was hook each one onto the ute and drive it over to the other side of the town, return to collect the next trailer, and so on.
 I felt him get out of bed, it felt like I'd only just gone to sleep. It seemed so very early, so I rolled over and went back to sleep.

I heard him towing the first trailer load out the gate, and close it behind him, and I did feel a tad guilty, but I rolled over and went back to sleep again. It was still pitch dark!  I intended to get up so I could be out there in time to open the gates for the second trip. There are three trailers with bee boxes, and he didn't get any help from me at all as it turned out.

When he climbed back into bed it was still dark. "What's the time?"
So he'd got up at 3.30am!

 Last week another request came to ask us to remove a wine barrel in which a swarm of bees had made their home.  A reminder to readers to plug up the hole in the wine barrel if you have one as a decorative item around your home. Barrels are the perfect home for bees. 

 Brian brought it home during the week and when the rain cleared today, he cut the barrel in half so the owner can use the two halves as plant pots.

The bees were transferred into a Nuc box, queen included, and it's a nice strong colony.
Our hopes are high for a good flow when the Red Gums start to flower, because like all apiarists here in South Australia, our honey production is well down this year due to the wet and colder weather during these past three months.
So for now our main concern is to keep the bees happy and the colonies healthy and strong.
Our fingers are crossed for a better honey extraction in a few weeks time.

Cheers, and thanks for visiting. 


  1. I had a big, stocky, dark metallic bee around me in the garden on the weekend. Could that have been my first glimpse of a carpenter bee? I wonder. I often wonder where all the different species of bees that visit my garden live. I know carpenter bees like grass trees, but our grass trees are the slender stalk variety, so I cannot see how they would manage to hollow out a nest in one of those.

    I hope the conditions improve so that your honey extraction increases Sally.

    1. I googled Carpenter bees and they love to drill holes into things to make their nest, especially grass trees, but also bits of timber, hence the carpenter name. Thanks Sherri for extending my knowledge of different bee species, as we don't have those here in SA either. They look so wonderful though, a shiny black abdomen and a fluffy yellow waistcoat.

  2. Your story reminds me that food is really seasonal, and we have to settle for what we can get. Good and bad seasons. :)

    1. That's very true of this season Chris. Our honey season is only from October till January, and we can generally expect a bad year occasionally, but this will be two bad honey years in row. Our stone fruit harvest is also going to be well down due to the extreme weather in September. Vegetables such as potatoes are over $6 per kilo in the shops and onions are much the same. It makes the consumer appreciate our food and how the weather effects our wallets, and our bottom line.


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