When the spring ends and the summer months begin, the big honey collection season begins now. It is clear from the bees’ entrance to the hive that the season of the honey collection begins. Apart from bees carrying pollen on the flying table, bees are also seen whose body contours are larger and darkened, as if wet. These are bees with the honey extract. In addition, a large number of workers flap their wings facing the hive on the flight board in the afternoon. The purpose of these ventilating bees is to provide the air circulation inside the hive, to blow off the water of the fresh honey brought and to remove the excess moisture formed in the hive.
When the hive cover is opened, it is noticed that the bees are not as peevish as before and the smell of fresh honey is caught from the hive. It is seen that the upper parts of the slats are covered with white honeycomb. If a frame is pulled out of the honeycomb, it can be determined that the honey is beginning to be glazed. If a test bucket is chosen from the apiary and a weighing scale is placed underneath, it can be understood practically that the big honey collection season begins by comparing the daily weights.
In the summer, the beekeeper should monitor the honey condition inside the hives and make the necessary interventions on time. If the season is very convenient and there is a lot of honey coming, milking starts immediately. Honeycombs that at least two-thirds of their eyes are closed are milked without waiting. The emptied honeycombs are put back into their places in the hive. Thus, bees can replenish ready-made honeycomb honey in a very short time. Bees can fill a frame once every 3-5 days during periods of the intense honey flow.
When the bee population does not fit in the first honey chamber and the frames in the chamber begin to glaze, it is time to add the second addition. The second addition is usually placed between hatching and the first addition. The first addition is placed at the top for the glazing of honey-filled frames, and the second addition is immediately above the hatchery, and honey is started to be stored more easily by being swollen by the bees. It is necessary to protect bees from sun and heat in this season. Bees exposed to excessive sun experience laziness and lethargy. Bees stop working when the beehive temperature rises above 37 degrees. They spend all their strength on ventilation to cool the bucket. Also, the honeycombs in the hive are bent from high temperatures.
To protect the hives from heat, an arbor can be built or weed and branch pieces can be placed on them. If the surrounding water resources are not sufficient in this month, there must be a watering system in the apiary. When the bees are too loaded and tired, the hive cannot be placed on the flying table and falls to the ground. If possible during the honey collection season, this flight table should be expanded. Again in this season, weeds that grow to cover the hives should be cleaned and bees should be provided with a comfortable flight.
Necessary precautions should be taken especially against digger wasps at the end of the summer. In this period, digger wasps attack the bees and try to be a partner in the honey they store. In addition, the fugitive sons who have nested in the land somehow try to plunder by attacking the apiary if they cannot collect the necessary honey for the winter. These are called robber bees. Precautions should also be taken for this as well. Towards the end of the summer season, the honey resources in the land are cut. When the process of bringing honey starts to decrease, it is time to harvest honey. Honey harvesting should be done properly without delay.
Honey harvesting should be done towards the end of the honey collecting season before the flow of nectar in the land is over. In the honey harvest done after the nectar flow is cut, the bees become very peevish and tend to plunder. Before the harvest, the beekeeper should make all necessary preparations to avoid problems. The first preparation is the preparation of the place where the harvested honey will be placed. This place is arranged so that the beekeeper can work comfortably. All measures are taken to prevent the entry of bees into the room.
The second preparation is the beekeeper’s own preparation. A good mask and overalls are worn. It is recommended to tie the legs with rubber by passing pouches to the feet, especially to prevent the entry of bees from the legs. The beekeeper reviews all his equipment. Gloves, hive tools, brushes, bellows, a coffee table on which honey chamber additions can be placed, and a wide white cover that will be used while shaking in front of the hive.
Honey harvest starts early in the morning to prevent the danger of plunder. The harvest should be ended when the looting trend starts with the progress of the hours and the weather getting warmer. Since bees will switch to the cluster in hatching on cold and cloudy days, the number of bees in the honey chambers will be the minimum. 4 methods are generally used to remove bees from honeyed frames.
Methods to Remove Bees For Collecting Honey
- Shaking, Sweeping Method
It is the method most used by beekeepers who do not have a large number of hives. The biggest disadvantage of this method, which is clean and does not have the risk of containing harmful additives, is the plundering and getting ill-tempered of bees. A coffee table on which you will put the honey chambers that you separate from the hive body is placed next to the bucket where you will harvest. From the blower that has been burned according to the method, the smoke is slowly emitted 2-3 times from the edges of the cover board. The addition of the honeycomb is separated from the hatching with the help of a hive tool and placed on the table and covered immediately. The hatchery is covered with a cover board as well.
At this stage, it is necessary to choose one of two shaking methods. First, bees can be shaken in front of the hive. The white cover prepared for this is laid in front of the hive to cover the flying board. Bees shrugged on the cover are directed to the hive by giving smoke with the bellows. In the second shaking method, the hatching is covered with a cover board, but a hole is left to allow the bees to go up and down. In this way, the bees in hatching are prevented to be disturbed and become peevish during the harvest. A honeycomb with 4-5 empty honeycomb frames is added to the hatchery and covered with a wet cloth. Bees are wiped here by opening the cover of the top honey chamber halfway. Occasionally, smoke is passed over the fish and the bees are prevented from flying.
Some beekeepers start to take honey frames directly and take the bees on it without taking the honey on the hatching. This is a rather inconvenient method. Because, as the bee slipping into the honeycomb starts to settle down, it goes up with the second frame and is wiped again. Bees that shed more than once begin to attack as if they are grumpy and make the harvest difficult. In some beekeeping books, it is recommended to shake the frames directly to hatching after taking the honeycomb. This is a method that complicates the work, especially for beekeepers working with combative bee breeds. Behaving in this way, the bees in the hatching begin to attack by getting angry as there will be harassment.
In the shaking process, the two ends of the frame are grabbed and shrugging is done quickly, or by holding the frame at one end, the bees fall down by striking the hand holding the frame with the idle hand. The beekeeper gently sweeps away the remaining bees with a brush and gives the frame to his assistant. Taking the auxiliary frame, he puts it in a six-closed box prepared for this work and immediately covers it with a wet cloth. In this way, it can be harvested quickly. Meanwhile, the beekeeper should be careful not to infect honey and to kill the bees. Honey remains cause plundering. The harvested hive is quickly covered and the work continues on the second hive.
- Bee Escape Method
In this method, the cover board with the tool that expels bees in the middle is placed between the hatchery and the honeycomb. Thanks to this tool, the bees can go to hatching but cannot go up. Thus, within 2-3 days, the hive is discharged from the bees and the honey frames are easily harvested. In order for this method to be applied in a healthy way, there should be no hatching in the honey chamber, because the chamber will not get emptied since the bees do not go down. The disadvantage of this method is that the honey in the honeycomb starts to melt, especially because the fan bees cannot go up in very hot weather.
- Chemical Substance Method
This method is used in very large commercial apiaries. The hive is closed by applying a substance which bees do not like to smell via a special device under the lid. Bees leave the honey chamber within a certain period of time and the hatching descends. Since some of the chemicals used in this method pose a risk to human and bee health, legal regulations are needed to be applied. In the USA, only “Benzaldehyde” and “Propionic and Butyric Anhydride” are allowed as chemical substances. The use of “Carbolic acid”, known as “Phenol”, which is used by some beekeepers, is prohibited.
- Air Blowing Method
This method is based on the removal of bees from the frames by blowing compressed air. For this, a table with an open bottom is placed in front of the beehive. A wide cloth is stretched between the hive flying hole and the table. Or a ramp is placed in the flying hole for the bees to climb easily. Compressed air is sprayed between the frame by placing the honeycomb on the coffee table. Bees that fall on the cover with the pressure of the air are directed with smoke to enter the hive. The bottom and the top of the honey chamber that is discharged from the bees is closed and quickly removed from the hive. A wide variety of models of air-blowing tools are sold online. Vacuum cleaners with practically blowing air out can be used, too.
Things to Be Done After Collecting Honey
- Honey Filtering
The room temperature should be 25-30 C before the honey filtering process in order to provide ease of filtration and fluency. Glazes on the honeycombs of the frames to be filtered are taken with a glazing knife or glazing comb. The honeycombs are removed and placed in the centrifuge (honey filter) machine, which is rotated by hand or electrically, and the honey is removed. Removing glazes and honey extraction processes are mostly done with fully automatic machines.
In order to clean the honey residues remaining on the honeycombs, the honeycombs whose honey is filtered are placed on the hatch in the evening and cleaned by the bees. This cleaning should not be done during the day, in order not to cause plundering. Those that are clean and usable from these frames can be stored and returned to the hives in the spring.
- Utilization of Honeycombs Whose Honey Is Filtered
The honeycombs, which can be reused, are kept in isolated honeycomb rooms. Against the honeycomb moth, the honeycombs are lined up and smokes are made by burning powder sulfur in the brazier or electric stoves with preserved charcoal. However, in this application, since the moth eggs in the honeycombs do not die, the application is repeated several times at 2-3 week intervals. If necessary, these honeycombs can be reused next spring. However, re-use of such combs may be risky in terms of diseases. Therefore, in some countries, combs are only allowed for one year. Naphthalene should never be used in the preservation method. Naphthalene, a petroleum product, is a carcinogenic substance and its residue in honey and beeswax is dangerous for human health. The combs that cannot be used are melted and turned into mold candles.
- Resting Honey
The honey obtained in the honey filter machine is passed through a thinner multi-layered sieve and wax scraps and other foreign substances are removed. However, small particles and the air bubbles formed blur the color of the honey. For this, honey is taken to the resting tank and rested. Small wax scraps and air bubbles collect on top in the form of foam. The foamy part is stored as a feed to bees or in a separate place for the production of vinegar and liquor. It can be packaged when the honey in the resting bowl is clarified and becomes clear.
- Storage of Honey
Since honey is made up of different building blocks, it constantly changes structurally even during storage. These changes are generally crystallization, color darkening, increase in acidity, increase and decrease in sugar types in honey. In addition, increasing the storage time and heating of honey increases HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) value.
Since the crystallization of the honey begins at 5-7 º C and the souring starts at 10 º C, the honey filtered should be kept under 5 º C if not to be heated. In order for the crystallized honey to be restored, the honey container is kept in a bigger container filled with hot water and the honey is dissolved. The honey pot should never come into direct contact with fire. The dissolved honey may recrystallize.
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