Sunday was a big day for me.
Since putting the nucleus colony of four frames into my hive on May 21st, I have watched as my bees have drawn out comb. The queen has been busy laying eggs and building a colony. In late June I added a second brood chamber, and watched as the bees took to that one too. So imagine my excitement when on Sunday I put on my first honey super, the next box in the hive. That’s the first point at which honey will get produced for me, rather than for them.
The honey super is approximately three quarter the depth of a brood chamber. It also has 10 frames, but they are just over 6 inches deep, compared to 9 and a bit. Of the 10 frames, eight have wax-covered plastic comb to help the bees start the cells. In the other two I put actual honey comb foundation. It is flimsy and won’t stand up to extraction. But the finished honey in these two frames can be cut into sections, complete with comb. It makes for nice presents.
In between the second brood chamber and the honey super I placed a queen excluder. This piece of equipment looks similar to an oven rack with closely-spaced bars. The space between the bars is just wide enough for the worker bees to get through up to the honey frames but too small for the queen to squeeze through.
Keeping the queen down in the two brood chambers is important because you don’t want her to go into the honey super to lay eggs. If I was a bear, larvae with my honey would be a delicacy. But since I am neither a bear nor a contestant on Survivor I prefer my honey like most people. Without larvae.
We are now into blackberry season, which is a prime time for the honey flow. We have lots of wild blackberry thickets down along the old railway tack behind our local park. I am hopeful that will be able to extract my first batch of honey in in mid to late August. This is the golden reward for beekeepers.
Sadly, it is doubtful Jeff’s hive will get to the point of having a honey super. The loss of his queen put the hive back a long ways, and the goal now is to simply build up a colony strong enough with stores of honey and pollen to survive over the winter. And yes, I will share my honey with Jeff.