Honey update: In mid-October, hive managers Di, Rene and Cordelia harvested seven frames of honey from the South 40 Community Garden hive. Sweet!
Side note to my experienced beekeepers: What’s your favorite smoker fuel?We were a small but mighty group at the November Beekeeping 101 class at the South 40 Community Garden. The cooler temperature was a bit of a concern, but it 'felt' warm. The sun was shining and the forecast called for a high of 80 degrees. After dawdling a bit to let the sun inch a bit higher in the sky – I mean, after discussing hive safety and reviewing some beekeeping fundamentals – we felt confident opening the hive. The smoker followed the ‘if at first you don’t succeed' adage. We tried again (and again) until that smoker was lit!
We handed the reins and the hive tool to Jeffrey, a fearless soul and aspiring beekeeper without a hive of his own but plenty of trial and error experience with a feral hive living in a wall. He used his raw talent and moxie to maneuver those frames like a pro. The bees were calm and welcoming. But we had one bit of business before saying goodbye to the bees.
After extracting as much honey as was humanly possible from the October harvest, the crushed wax was still wet with honey so we turned it over to the bees to finish the job. No need to waste any of the good stuff! We left the honey-coated crushed wax inside the hive so that it was not an open invitation to the neighborhood. Before replacing the top cover we put a box without frames on top of the other bee boxes. We (gently!) placed a few containers of the crushed honeycomb on top of the frames. We used disposable containers because the bees will likely adhere the containers to the frames with propolis. Di will return in a few days to swap out the clean wax with more crushed wax then again a few days later to remove the was and the extra box so the bees don't have empty space to keep warm when the night turns cool
Stay tuned regarding the December class. As always, we operate weather permitting. And it’s like rooting against the home team to hope for good weather for class when our gardens need the rain and the bees need our gardens.