In late August we are nearing the end of the main nectar flow from Alberta’s canola fields.Your bees are going to be heading into fall preparation mode, which involves filling up their honey stores, and dehydrating and capping the honey.
Our video shows how to take honey from the auto-extract hive, and also takes a look at what a complete honey frame looks like when it’s ready for removal for honey extraction. If your honey comes mainly from canola nectar, now is definitely the time to extract it.
This is also the time to be watching for wasps that can be very determined to rob the hive of honey. Wasps try to enter the hive where there is least likely to be effective resistance, so they generally ignore the main entrance and the small entrances to strongly-populated boxes. They will focus on small entryways to boxes with a weaker population. If you see them attacking an entrance, reduce the size of it with a stick or any other object so that the bees have an easier time defending it.
The door at the rear of the hybrid euto-extract hive opens to reveal the taps for honey removal. You should be able to see that the bees have begun to cap the honey towards the back, meaning honey is ready to be drawn off. Once empty, the box is turned upside down and left for the bees to collect and recycle any left-over honey for their own use over winter.
Use a wedge of some sort to tilt the front end of the hive up, to speed the process of honey flowing out the back. The speed of flow will depend on the temperature of the day. A long key is inserted into each of the three auto-extract frames and cranked to break up the cells inside and allow the honey to drain out.
Check the three comb frames on either side of the auto-extract frames for completion - ideally the comb will be capped and dehydrated, and ready for extraction.
After your honey has been removed from the hive, it is important to install a mouse guard on the main entrance. It allows ventilation to facilitate dehydraton of honey in the bottom two boxes, without reducing the size of the entry. An entrance reducer should be put on later.
Two more tips for this time of year:
Bursts of colder weather remind us to take honey off the hive as soon as possible. Summer is not over yet, but cooler weather will increase the rate at which honey will crystallize in the comb, making it very hard to extract. You will notice crystallization is more of a problem where bees have built on frames previously used to store honey (because of residual crystals).
Feed if you need! One way to see if the bees need additional carbs for winter is to weigh your hive with a hand-held luggage scale. Two boxes with a double nuc on top should weigh about 200 pounds, or 100-125 pounds without the nucs. Also take a look in the hive and if every frame in the bottom boxes is filled, you are in good shape. If things seem light, add a high-volume top feeder with 2-1 sugar/water mixture. Make sure the feeder does not run dry, and use it only if the temperature is warm enough that bees can ingest and use the syrup in the comb, and also dehydrate it.
We hope this information is useful to you, and welcome any comments or questions you may have. You will also find more information and all the equipment you need at Hiveworld.ca. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels for all the latest news and tips.
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What should you do if your bees have died? First thing you should do is look at your hive and see if you can detect any moisture, disease or anything else that may have caused your colonies demise. Do your best to take any samples you need, photos and get a second opinion from a fellow beekeeper, mentor or us!