Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Bees are Capping Honey

We're nearing the end of the honeysuckle bloom. The bushes are loosing their fragrance and the pale yellow flowers are starting to wilt and fall to the ground. The blossom of these bushes really kicked the bees into full honey production. When we first brought them home, I noticed an increase in bees on the few flowers that early spring boasts: the dandelions, wild strawberries and wild violets.

But the bees were still draining the mason jar of simple syrup that we provided for them each day. We feed them to supplement their food supply until they can produce enough honey to support themselves.

Once the honeysuckle went into bloom, the bushes were loaded with buzzing pollinators, and the syrup jar remained full. Zach and I decided it was time to open the hive and see how things were going.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that almost 5 frames were full of honey and capped.

This is significant for a few reasons. The first being that the bees are foraging enough to feed themselves, which means we have a strong hive.

It also means that they are producing fast! Bees don't produce honey immediately. They collect nectar and deposit it into the comb cavities and let it dehydrate to a 17% sugar solution.

At this time, the solution is concentrated enough to not go rancid, and becomes honey. I find it interesting because maple sap becomes maple syrup at the exact same ratio.

The bees then cap the cell with wax and it acts as a mini mason jar of honey ready for them when they need to tap into their supplies, mainly rainy spells and of course, winter.

At this point, none of this honey will be for our consumption. We are letting the bees create their storage. Once they have two large supers filed for themselves, we can take anything that they produce on top of that.

Some wayward comb building
We must check the bees often to see how they are progressing across the frames. We want to make sure that they're not out growing the first box that they have now, but we don't want to put too many boxes and frames on at once because this stresses the bees to keep a constant temperature in the hive.

The dark cells on this frame are full of pollen
Until the new bees start "hatching" the original 10,000 bees we brought home are responsible for the hive, We can't expand them too soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment