As I had reported a few weeks ago, the bees did not make it through the winter. The big question was “Should we take the honey?” I really struggled with this decision. I tried to read about what to do, I make phone calls, and asked on top bar forums and got mixed answers (no surprise there…). I went into the hive and started cleaning things out.
I could tell that the bees were not located close enough to the honey. That is probably one reason they did not make it. Live and learn…
The good news is that there is lots of nice brood comb all ready for the new bees. Once I got in there, I decided that we would take the honey and feed the bees with sugar water to get the new bees started. I kinda figured that the last bees started with absolutely nothing and they were quite prolific. At least the new bees will not be starting from scratch. Making beeswax for the comb is labor intensive for the bees and now they have at least 10 bars of brood comb to get them going so they can immediately start concentrating on stashing honey.
In addition, we might be moving the hive soon (hint, hint) and it would be easier to move an empty hive than one full of 30 pounds of honey.
Here I am getting started with collecting the honey. When you have a top bar hive, you have to collect the honey by crushing the honeycomb and then straining out the honey. I am using the yellow buckets on the left for this. The top is lined with a cloth strainer and it has holes in the bottom to allow the honey to flow through into the bottom bucket.
Here I have separated the bars. All the bars on the right are being saved for brood comb for the new bees. The bars on the left will be harvested for honey.
Here is some comb that I melted down to save for beeswax.
Here is the inside of the top bucket. I used a potato masher to crush up the comb to release the honey.
We let the honey drain for a week. Then, put it into jars.
Here is the crushed comb that I melted down for beeswax. I knew there was going to be a little more honey left in the comb but I ended up getting 3 more pints of honey out of the wax!
Here is some of the honey we collected. We got well over a gallon of honey!
Last weekend, Mark and I went to the arboretum at the University of Idaho for a walk. This heath was blooming and we saw some bees there!