On Wednesday we collected 175 Farrar frames of honey and 5 Langstroth frames from the hives down here in Oventrask. We started de-capping and spinning the frames at about midnight and went to bed at about 6.30am on this morning. We had worked about 90 frames. This afternoon we took 10 more Farrar frames from the hive in Rosendal. So we have already exceeded last year's harvest and we still have the hives in Espoo to deal with. We will process the Espoo honey harvest separately as we are keen to see if it tastes any different.
The honey workshop is now a big clean space - it is much nicer working on the concrete flor (which is painted now) rather than have to work on the plastic sheeting that we used to cover the floor last year. When we finished this morning we could wash the floor easily which has prevented the area being raided by bees during the day today.
We are about to start work again. We still have 85 Farrars and 5 langstroth frames to de-cap and spin.
I was both heavy smoker and bookkeeper (hence the paper and pencil) and P was in charge of removing the frames from the hives (which is significantly more dangerous: he got stung, I didn't).
We are getting our honey production facility ready for the harvest, spending today painting the floor. Tomorrow we will install all the equipment (spinner, de-capping tray etc) ready for the frames. I think we will be harvesting next week and spinning in the evenings.
We stopped in Mesimestari on our way back from a trip to Tampere and bought some more honey pots and a few other supplies. I bought Peter part two of the Finnish beekeepers handbook which is amazing - really informative and full of excellent pictures, diagrams and information. Excellent book.
You can buy it from here (in Finnish though!)
When I wasn't look Peter bought pellets for the smoker! I think that is cheating but I must admit they are useful when you are really busy with the harvest.
Am quite enjoying this novel by laline Paull.
I'm not sure if it is fantasy or science fiction, difficult to slot into a category but if you are interested in bees, you'll probably enjoy it. I thought I would get irritated by what I expected to be a ton over-researched content loosely held together with a thin plot but I am not irritated at all. It is a real work of fiction and all the scientific facts about bees are secondary to the story (but at the same time, she obviously does know a lot about bees).
Here's a review in the Guardian and there are plenty more on Amazon and in the other newspapers.
I have, at long last, got round to making some numbers to go on the hives. Nothing clever just printed on A4 paper and then laminated.
After we moved one hive up to the house in Rosendal and a couple more out to Espoo, it started getting complicated keeping track of what we were doing where. So, I gave up giving detailed information on each hive but Peter has been keeping an Excel spreadsheet with precise details of exactly what he has been doing to each hive.
We will now attach a number to each hive (using the numbering system we started in the very beginning) and that will help us to compare the yields for each hive this year compared to last.
As a reminder, we put approximately 170 frames through the spinner last year.
Peter checked the hives this evening and things are looking good. Some of the hives are overflowing with honey frames but a couple of the hives are not so productive. Presumably some of the bees have swarmed and disappeared.
We planted these in the small meadow where we were growing hemp last year. They are incredibly fragrant: the smell is over-powering, and the bees love them. Peter couldn't remember the name of them though. I need to do some research.
Update: they are Tansies Phacelia tanacetifolia
We have a very large swarm situated high up in a spruce tree, probably one of the tallest trees in the forest. It's the black blobby thing in the middle of this photo. Peter was convinced something was up as there were bees in the garage coming and going all day. They were out looking for a new hive and maybe the smell of the old frames in the garage attracted them. With binoculars we can see that this is a huge swarm but there is no way we can climb a tree that tall to collect it. So we are going to use "alternative" tactics. We have made a lure, a small hive at the base of the tree containing some old frames. Hopefully some of the bees will find it and communicate the location to the swarm. We need to get the queen into that box. To speed things up, we could fire a shot gun at the swarm in order to disperse it, but I don't want to be around when that happens.
The hot weather during the past few days has encouraged the hive reproduction instincts, ie to renew the queen and build a new colony. This can have a dramatic impact on the honey production as a new queen will take several weeks to produce brood that can eventually forage and by then the flowering season will be over.
UPDATE: Peter fired a shot gun at the swarm and it has dispersed. When things settle down we'll take a look at the hives. The swarm may have returned to the original hive: anyway, it has left the spruce tree.
The raspberries are still in flower in shadier places and the rosebay willowherb is just starting to flower. this is the peak time for foraging and producing honey in the hives. Busy bees.
It was a huge rush to get to the honey shop which is in the middle of rolling countryside about 45 min from Tampere city centre. I managed to buy the wrong frames so Peter will have to make a trip to the bee shop in Kirkkonummi to do a swap. But I think the rest of the stuff is OK: we now have everything we need to start harvesting and producing honey.