People have kept bees for thousands of years,vyet despite a wealth of accessible accumulated knowledge, Cherisse and I keep winging it when it comes to our hives. When we took four frames of honey a couple of weeks ago (two from each hive), we harvested it without any of the proper tools—simply scraping off the capped wax with a knife (I thought of trying a cheese slicer, but that didn’t work) and then scooping the honey into a dish.
We let the honey sit overnight and then skimmed off the fine particles of wax that rose to the top.
Since we didn’t use an extractor, there was still honey left on each frame that needed to be cleaned off. Not sure how best to accomplish this, we thought why not see if the bees would do it? So we returned the frames to the hives and checked them a few days later. Sure enough, the bees had cleaned the frames and were starting to build them out again with new honeycomb, repairing the damage we had done in our honey removal.As soon as Tropical Storm Irene passed through, the bees got back to work. Each of the hives has only a “deep” with large frames, and a “super” with medium frames—Cherisse was planning to make a second deep for each, but hadn’t gotten to it (and now it seems too late—they would have too much space). We were worried that the bees had made so much honey they needed more room to add to their winter stores (and keep busy). We thought we might be able to pull out some honey-filled frames and store them, returning the frames in the winter when the bees’ supplies were low. However, we checked again yesterday only to discover their honey supply had dropped significantly from pre-storm. We also noticed that their brood production was slowing considerably. With colder weather approaching, it seems logical they would slow down making new bees, but we want to confirm this.The bees, with their ancient, complex social structure are a fascination for us, and a mystery. We grow a variety of flowering plants for them, keep an eye on their health, and supplement their food in the winter; but mostly we watch and learn.