Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beekeeping in early Spring (adding supers).

Mr. J in action!

Last week J helped his dad to prep his beehives for the upcoming warmer weather. During winter, bees need a snug space to live so that they can keep warm and cozy, but once the weather warms up it is necessary to add space to the hive to prevent the bees from swarming away looking for more space to grow the hive, make more bees and gather pollen and nectar to produce honey with all the new blooming goodness out there (yay!).
Hives can be constructed according to the size needed by piling up "supers" on top of each other. Supers are bottomless and topless boxes that can contain wax "frames" where the bees build honey comb from.  They come in three different depths, so you can actually experiment with different increases for different conditions and according to the specific hive.  Inside, the hive is like a building all connected throughout where the bees can move freely.
J's dad has taken care of bee hives for more that 35 years now, and his honey always wins prizes at the County Fair. Right now he has 7 hives, and I tagged along with J to see him expand them.

Equipment: smoker, brush, gloves.

The smoker helps to make the bees believe there is a forest fire. That makes them go into survival mode, go inside the hive and gather all the honey then can to then fly away. But they never actually need to evacuate when you use a smoker, as you don't take long enough to allow them to. The smoke makes the bees occupied and that way they are not as protective and aggressive as they would without it. It also disguises the smell of the beekeeper. 

You can see different depth supers in this hive.

You have to move gingerly while handling a bee hive, even while wearing a suit.

And this is why!

Empty wax frames for the bees to build unto.

Honey filled frame! We did not extract honey today.

 Velvet sneakers and Me.

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