August in the Apiary
By Emma and Adam Besanson-Boyce
Extracting the honey
You’ll need to de-cap the frames with your de-capping fork or knife to take off all the wax cappings so that all the honey will flow out of the cells. Then the frames go into the extractor and you spin the honey out. We have a radial extractor. The frames come out of the extractor and go straight back into the super and we store the frames wet, ready for the next year.
Beforehand, we sterilise the jars in the oven and give them a blast in the microwave as well. After that we filter the honey from the extractor through a honey strainer into a bucket and then we strain the bucket through muslin into the bottling bucket. We leave the honey for about a day to let it settle and let the air bubbles escape before we bottle it.
Taking off the supers
It’s one of the busiest times of the year. You can’t plan a holiday in August. Towards the end of August you’d be looking for capped comb, capped honey. What we do is put the clearer board on. The clearer board is just the crown board with porter bee escapes. So we put the clearer board on the day before and go down the next day and take the supers off. The bees go down through the porter bee escapes and they can’t go back up.
Always take the supers off in the morning because the bees will have worked them and the moisture content will be lower so always take your supers in the morning and extract the honey as soon as you can.
It’s usually the end of August, when you start to see most of the honey is capped, then it’s ready to take. But definitely before the first of September, you’d want to have it all off. Some people put the supers back on for ivy honey, but we don’t bother with that. You could put another super on if the hive is very strong and they need more room as it’s too late in the year in August to split a hive.
Feeding the bees
Straight after taking the supers off, we feed the bees. We give them a 2:1 syrup which is about two kgs of sugar to one litre of water. We use a top hive feeder to feed them.
Treat for varroa
After the honey has been taken off, we treat them for the varroa mite. We use two lots of Apiguard for that. We vaporise as well for varroa with oxalic acid in January or February. This year with the good weather, the varroa mites seem to have been less of a problem.
We reduce the entrances to the hive about a week after the honey flow ends to keep wasps out. You’ll see wasps going around. A strong colony will be okay. It’s the weaker colonies that usually get robbed.