Extracting in the rain is not a good thing for either the bees or the beekeepers. However, most of the work that is done in the honey room so I figured if we had a stretch of an hour or so of clear skies we could get the frames off the hive and into the garage with minimal harm to the bees.
During the early morning hours on Sunday, the skies opened up and we got rain. However, by eight oíclock the streets were dry. I decided we had time to take the dog for a walk before starting with the bees. As we started out the door, the skies opened up again and a heavy rain fell. I was willing to take this as a hint from Mother Nature that Sunday would not be a good day to extract, but Maria pointed out that forty degree weather was expected later in the week and that we better try before the cold front arrived.
The rain stopped after an hour or so and we began sweeping out the garage. This year we used a 12 x 16 foot tarp that we found at Costco to put down on the garage floor to catch those inevitable honey drips. It worked quite well and I highly recommend this technique.
After cleaning up the garage, making room for the extractor and the uncapping tank, we spread out all the equipment and were ready to rob the bees.
I used a wheelbarrow to bring the frames from the hive to the garage. I put a black plastic garbage bag at the bottom of the wheelbarrow to catch the honey drips and then add a sheet of plywood about the size a medium box. I place an empty medium on top of the plywood and I was ready to take frames from the hive. I used a fume board and Fischerís Bee-Quick to drive the bees off the frames. I then removed each frame and handed it to Maria, who placed it in the empty medium box and quickly covered the box with a second sheet of plywood. This kept the bees from getting back on the frames during the robbing process.
By removing one frame at a time I can avoid lifting a medium full of honey and all the weight that entails.
The first box was full of honey that was not yet capped. In another week, if we had just had an Indian Summer, the bees would have capped the fall honey flow and I would have had nine more frames of their honey. As it was, I set the box aside to be placed back on the hive for winterís use by the bees.
Extraction went without trouble and the Buckfast bees were gentle during the entire process. Also, the weather cooperated by remaining rain free during the entire process.
We, extracted the honey in our garage using the clubs radial extractor. I have a tangential extractor of my own, but it only handles three frames at a time. The club extractor handles six frames at a time, and it really makes the work go much faster.
As usual, neighborhood bees found us during the extraction process and were gorging themselves on the honey on the floor, in the uncapping tank, and on the extractor. Because we were not threatening their hives, these bees paid us no attention.
To avoid lifting a 5-gallon pail of honey (which weighs 60 pounds), I partially filled a couple of 5-gallon pails to keep the weight at a manageable level. There was also plenty of wax and honey in the uncapping tank.
We set the equipment in the yard for the bees to clean up and we will have our honey bottled and ready for the Houston Beekeeping Associationcontest November 27, 2012. Whew.
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