The beekeeper should keep a notebook
and record his or her findings under these five points at each
inspection (including the dates). This is a summary of the active
seasons work by the beekeeper.
The season during which surplus honey is gathered
staggered and variable through the summer months also. It generally
begins in May with the Sycamore, Chestnut and sometimes the Whitethorn
blossoms. A gap of two to three weeks in the flowering of major
blossoms then occurs and in late June and up to the end of July White
Clover and Blackberry blossoms provide excellent nectar sources and
generally the main sources of honey for the season. If you are in an
area where farmers grow Oil Seed Rape the season will start a little
earlier in mid-April and at the other end of the season Ling Heather
blooms on the moors and mountains from mid-August to mid-September.
For most of us the time to harvest the crop is
mid-August. The last of the White Clover blossoms fade at the end of
July and it is best to leave the honey bee colonies alone then for
about two weeks before the crop is removed. There are exceptions to all
rules and in this case Oilseed Rape is the one that needs special
treatment. Because of the balance of sugars in this crop the honey
granulates very rapidly and so must be removed and extracted from the
honeycomb as soon as the flowers begin to wither on the plant. Failure
to do this will result in the honey becoming hard in the comb and
impossible to extract by the usual means.
In August when the crop is removed the colonies
be given a gallon or two of sugar syrup to ensure that the honeybees
have sufficient food to maintain them. Removing the honey crop often
results in the hives being left with virtually no food and if not fed
the sugar syrup quickly will probably die within a few days. Be
generous with your honeybees and they will repay you handsomely.
Extracting and storing the honey is a major part
season's work. Each super must be cleared of honey bees and taken home
and stored in a bee-proof place until the extracting process is
completed. If honey bees or wasps get access to the honeyladen supers
they will continue to raid them until all the honey has been removed.
They will visit in their thousands and will create a serious nuisance
to yourself and your neighbours and this should not be allowed to
happen. In order to eliminate the danger of such an occurrence the
supers should not be removed from the hives until you are ready to
extract the honey. If you have not invested in an extractor you will
need to hire one from the Association and this should be done in
advance so that its arrival can coincide with the homecoming of the
supers. Each frame must have the cells uncapped and then placed in the
extractor where the honey is spun out. It is drawn off through a tap at
the bottom of the vessel into a bucket or other suitable container.
Again these containers must have an airtight cover to keep out the air.
Honey is Hygroscopic and if moisture gets into it fermentation will
occur and the honey will be irreparably damaged.
Towards the end of August, a generous feed of
syrup must be given to each colony to ensure ample food stores to take
them through the winter months. Once this has been done the honeybee
hives are checked to ensure the roof or outer cover is waterproof and
should be left undisturbed until the following springtime when the
cycle starts all over again.