Tag Archive | smell

Gather, Extract, Bottle

Sunday, July 12, 2015


You know that saying about something is attracted to something like bees are attracted to honey?  Unless you’ve actually extracted honey, you couldn’t possibly know just how attracted to honey they really are.

Bees smell honey. Then they go tell their friends where to find the honey…and they tell their friends…and they tell their friends…and within minutes the driveway, the garage, the pool, the entire front yard is enveloped in bees, like something out of a horror movie.  Then the hubster is unhappy because he can’t in the pool because it’s surrounded by bees, and I need to get the bees out of the garage…and don’t let them in the house cause the cats will chase them and get stung…then I’m pulling out the hose to squirt the bees away and wash the honey smell off the floor, the driveway, anything and everything’s that’s come in contact with the honey.  Not to mention, I kick into rescue mode and start fishing the little buggers out of the pool.  All of this is hypothetical by the way :o) Next year we’ll sneak everything out of the garage and into the workshop around midnight when the bees are sleeping.

The hardest part of extracting honey is not letting the bees know you’re doing it.  Stealth is key.  I learned my lesson last year, escaping with uncovered boxes down to the garage and leaving them outside for even a few minutes and attracting hoards of bees that hovered outside the garage door all day.

Based on that experience, I improved my process this year.  In fact, I was quite pleased with myself and how I managed to bypass the drama that we experienced last year.  At least until the hubster opened the garage door the next day while the honey boxes and some leftover honey were sitting on the garage floor.  Not to mention, they smelled the remnants from the day before.  Bees are smart!  But getting back to extraction day, I actually came up with a good process.  Not a perfect process, but a good one.

Step 1.  Prepare

Think smart.  Preparation is key.  Get the tools and brush ready, get the fume board ready, get a wheelbarrow ready, get top covers ready, have the smoker going, get the gear on, and have a completely enclosed facility ready to house the honey.

Step 2.  Fuming the Bees, One Box at a Time

  • Put a top cover top side down in the bottom of the wheel barrow.
  • Lightly smoke around the top edges of the hive and at the entrance to let them know you’re coming in.  But not too much.  You don’t want to smoke in the honey.
  • Spray the fume board 3 times with the almond scented fuming spray, and place the board on top of the hive.
  • Wait  5 – 10 minutes for the bees to clear out.


Step 3.  Remove the box

  • Most of the bees should bee out of the top box by now, so remove the top box and place it within the top cover that’s in the bottom of the wheel barrow.
  • Immediately place another top cover securely on top of the honey box so that it is completely closed on the top and on the bottom.


Step 4. Fume again and escape (bee stealthy) with the honey

  • Spray the fume board one or two more times, then place on top of the next box to bee removed.
  • While the fume board empties the next box, quickly run your honey super down to the garage or where ever you’re extracting.
  • Life the lid and brush off as many bees as possible – what’s left will go into the garage with you along with the honey box.
  • Close the door behind you!!!

Step 5.  Repeat steps 2-4

If successful, then you’ll have all honey supers safely in the garage, with a small amount of bee activity outside the door, and a small amount of bee activity inside the garage.

It’s gonna happen, some bees will bee caught up with the honey boxes.  Don’t open the garage door to let them out. TRUST ME on this.

We extracted over 100 lbs of honey this past weekend.  That’s from about 5 boxes.  Amazing bees!

Overall Apiary Status

So how have the girls been doing up to this point?  Well, other than finding bee activity in my swarm traps and discovering (after purchasing a new hive, new beekeeping britches, and setting up a new hive location) that they were not swarms but robber bees, we haven’t had much drama.  They’ve endured much rain, and much heat and humidity this summer.  I’ve left them alone, and they’ve been thriving (that should tell you something right there).  And so has the garden.  We have cucumbers coming out our ying yangs, and tomatoes are coming up fast.


Plans for Using the Honey

So what to do with all that honey?  We’ll sell some of it, give some away as gifts, make alcoholic honey beverages, cook with it, make creamed honey for Christmas presents, I’ll use it in soaps and potions.  So many things we can do with honey.  So you can expect lots of tutorial posts in the coming months.  :o)

In the meantime, I’ve placed supers back on all the hives, and even added a third box to my little yellow hive, which is still taking syrup and is growing like crazy.  Let’s hope the big hives fill out and cap some unfinished frames and build out the rest of the supers before winter.  Trying to follow that 90% rule – only extract frames that are 90% capped.  We can use some late summer honey for overwintering the bees, and maybe they can spare a bit more for us.  We shall see!


The Lawnmower Test

May 22, 2013

Lawnmower approaches bees

I really never had any fears about handling the bees. That part is exciting and fascinating and so cool. But one thing that did concern me was mowing the lawn. You see, bees don’t like loud noises or strong smells. And one of my weekly tasks just happens to involve pushing a very loud and stinky lawnmower within several feet of the hives.

Stories were told in my bee class about unsuspecting spouses or neighbors getting stung while mowing, and others said they wear full bee garb when they mow. Most have their own methods, like mowing the bee area first and doing it as quickly as possible. And then there are those who have never had an issue and said it depends on the personality of the bees. That’s the group I wanted to be in, since I have no interest in wearing a full jacket, veil and gloves to mow the lawn in peak summer heat.

The inevitable day did finally come when I had to do my part of the lawn. The hubster had ridden past them a few times on the riding mower and had no problem. So I decided to risk it and wear my usual t-shirt and shorts.

I started at one end of the tree line and gradually worked my way up toward the bees. I could see them out and actively buzzing around the hives. Within 10 feet, I decided to alter my route by mowing all the way around the garden so I could approach them from behind.

I moved toward them, closer and closer, expecting that, at any moment the guard bees would release their pheromones, beckoning the hive to full on attack the creature behind the big, loud, smelly machine. I worked fast.  Two or three buzzed past my head, but that was it. I made it past without incident.

I decided to push my luck and attempt to mow another section on the opposite side.  Again, they didn’t seem interested.  A nice little beard was formed on the front of the green hive and they didn’t move. So I mowed in front of the hives.  I’d gone full circle and they didn’t care.

This was an excellent discovery, indeed!  All that worry for nothing, and I wouldn’t be the neighborhood freak mowing the lawn in 90 degree weather dressed in a full bee suit. Even better, it meant that my bees are easy going and not excitable or irritable. Just the way I like my people! I can only hope this personality trait will translate to future generations, as bees turnover every 6 months. So I’ll be doing the lawnmower test again with an entirely new colony for next year’s mowing season.