July 31, 2011
Honey pull is going very well, 2/3 of the yards are pulled off to date and 1/3 of the honey has been extracted. It has been an extremely casual pull so far. Three reasons why it has been a casual honey pull;
1 – The Esyloader – We have finally figured out all the tricks of using this machine along with the escape boards. I have 240 boards, and we are able to set them all in a 8 or 9 hour day, working through about 8 yards with 3-4 guys including myself. We leave the hives for a day and a night or if we get behind in the honey house 2 nights, and pull all the honey back in the following 8-9 hour day. We find leaving them that extra night practically clears all the bees, where as only one night will clear about 80% of them. Just more bees in the honey house taking them after only one night.
That loader has saved me a tremendous amount of back work. I love that machine.
Another trick I have adopted is pulling the honey and replacing the hives with 1 box. I try to get back with another as soon as I have spare equipment within a few days. I have to watch carefully becasue the bees will already have that box full of honey needing more space. Doing it this way allows me to set more hives in a day not having to handle all that extra equipment. Its makes for very efficient time.
2 – I am taking the boxes at 75% – 85% instead of full up to the top. I have supered my later to take yards so that when I get around to them they are not plugged with honey. I’m running a few more half full boxes through, and averaging a bit lower yield per hive on this pull than usual. By taking the honey a bit earlier the honey isn’t so dry, 18.5 instead of 16 making it easier to pull out of the comb. Also most of my frames are only 1/3 capped making box handling and frame de capping much easier. Without having the honey so dry and being able to work the boxes with out dealing with soo much honey the whole machine operates quicker and easier. My spinner is keeping up and there is no granulated honey spitting through in the empty frames.
I have to watch my moisture levels closely. I put through the odd 20% load, but it blends in with the rest of the honey. 18% honey is much easier to handle than 16 or 17 % honey. I have also installed a good electric furnace in the honey house allowing me to have the honey warmed to 35 degrees or so waiting for extraction. My guys complain if I don’t turn the furnace off during the extraction day 🙂
3 – This year I am running an experienced honey crew. Two of my workers have been with me for 5 years helping with the pull. Experience is sure an asset during the pull. They are familiar with the hives, the machines and the routine. That alone has allowed me to get soo much accomplished in a day. We are pumping 300 plus boxes through that 60 frame extractor in a 8 hour day with 2 half hour coffee breaks. Thats 40 boxes an hour averaged over the 8 hour day. And from that we end the day with 12-15 barrels of honey.
That all said, things are going well. I should have all the yards turned over by Thursday, and finish extraction by next week. With alot of canola in the 20%-40% bloom stage, I should have another canola pull right promptly. I notice sunflowers and buckwheat in full bloom also so on the second pull I am going to have to be a bit more careful keeping my yards separated in the honey house. What we need right now is an inch of rain to help the plants and flowers out. A bit of rain would be nice but by the way the plants are responding to the heat, and by the way the bees are packing the honey, I truly think we actually have a root structure under those plants. Thats crucial this year becasue of the wet spring we have had. Usually wet fields promotes shallow rooted plants. I am thinking those roots followed the moisture downwards this year and is using a lot of that excess moisture we got in the spring.
Who knows, we will find out at the end of the season. All I know is I have hives boiling over with bees, all my boxes are filled with honey and the flowers are still kicking out nectar!
I lay alot of the hives health on that new varroa treatment this spring. If I hadn’t of been able to turn those bees around I would of missed this flow
Posted by Ian Steppler at 08:29 PM | Permalink
July 24, 2011
I am have been making up a bunch of nucs this year. It has not gone to plan because my local supplier has had trouble making good queens this year. He has experienced alot of rain and cloud, which spells disaster for queen mating.
I am making up a bunch of double nuc hives, which are basically two nucs separated in a single brood box. The theory goes that as the hives grow, their top strength is combined with the use of a queen excluder and they will co mingle during the summer work. Together they will aid in colony development and produce more honey than as working as a single unit.
I will see how this all works out, it sure is alot of work. I have another 60 queens coming this week, a bad time to be making nucs, but I’m working with what I can get. These nucs are being made up with my spring “dink” hives. They are still alive, and chugging along, and they have built themselves to a point where I should have enough make nucs out of.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 09:25 AM | Permalink
July 22, 2011
I had set projected honey pull start for July 21, but have now moved it to July 24. I checked my hives at random, and they are close to having the honey dried down. Its testing anywhere from 18-20% MC in the top two boxes. By the time I mix the bottom two or three boxes it will probably average out on the 18.5 mark, so production is a go. But I have one hold up right now, and its a big one. I burnt my pump loader solenoid and in the process of fixing it I toasted 2 diodes. In a panic I decided to stop fixing the loader and had an experienced mechanic work on it. This fellow has worked on all the modern day equipment so deciphering the Ezyloader schematics was no sweat!
Honey pull projected to start on Monday! looks like lots of honey out there! Rain in the forecast for tomorrow, so I hope that gets the crop producing lots of nectar again!
Posted by Ian Steppler at 01:56 PM | Permalink
July 13, 2011
The bees still amaze me on their ability to produce. First supering round I placed 1 box, not a week later I had to make another supering round becasue 40-50% of the hives packed that box full of honey. Now they are fully supered and needing more space. I have been having truck trouble again so this next round will be delayed by a day or so. Ill make this round, top up and prepare to extract in a week. I will know better after I have had a chance to go through the hives again.
I am cleaning the honey house now and will have it ready to go in a few days. Not much to do other than a few minor projects. The facility will be ready to go so I will be able to start the Honey Pull with a drop of a hat.
The bloom is sure impressive this year. I have fields half done booming and other fields still in its rosette stage. As long as the weather cooperates I may have a real tiring honeypull. Hope it all turns out. My workers are ready, Im ready, my facility is ready, all we need is for the honey to cure. The anticipation is nuts!!
Posted by Ian Steppler at 05:34 PM | Permalink