Beekeeping in August sees the apiarist’s activities step up a gear. Now is the time to and extract and bottle the honey. The first thing to do is to clear the supers of bees. Supers are boxes that are placed above the brood nest, over a queen excluder. The queen is too large to fit through the gaps in the queen excluder but worker bees can pass through and use the supers to store honey. There are several ways to clear the bees. Some people use clearer boards that are placed under the supers. These allow the bees to pass down through a bee escape but not back up again.
Over the space of 24 to 48 hours the supers should be relatively free of bees and can be taken off the hive. Others prefer to use fume boards which are sprayed with a product which contains essence of almond oil. The bees don’t like the smell of this and are keen to run down out of the supers. You have to be a bit careful how much you use as you don’t want them running all the way down and out the front door! This approach clears the supers within 5 minutes. Any remaining bees can be gently brushed off the frames before they are removed from the apiary.
The next step is to locate yourself in a clean and bee free environment where you can remove the wax cappings from the frames of honey and place the frames into an extractor. Here the frames are whizzed around until all the honey comes out. The honey is then filtered into a settling tank and left to stand for a few days so that any bubbles rise to the top. Finally this liquid gold can be put into jars. It is a thrilling and very sticky job! The wax cappings aren’t wasted either. Once drained of honey they too are cleaned and saved in preparation for making candles, cosmetics or beeswax polish.
Once the honey has been extracted the “wet” supers are returned to the hives from which they came. The bees will clean the frames within a few days leaving them spotless and dry ready for winter storage.
The National Honey Show Competition Exhibits