Brushing the Bees no more
This was the first time that I have enough honey to harvest in July. This was a very exciting time. To date I have not liked brushing the bees of every frame of the honey super in order to take the box off the hive. It is a very tedious task and I end up squashing far too many bees. More importantly the bees don’t like it. They get very cranky and the bee brush gets very sticky. As the brush starts accumulating honey it does less brushing and more squashing. I wanted to change my methods.
Building a Fume Board
I decided to take out my woodworking skills and try building a fume board. I had tried one a few years back when I still only had one hive at a friends place. They keep 8 hives and when we were pulling honey it seemed to work very well.
A fume board is made up of a wood frame the same size as your hive bodies. If you keep 10 frame Langstroths you would need a frame that is 19 7/8″ x 16 1/4″ or interior dimensions of 18 3/8″ x 14 3/4″. The interior lid is then covered with a piece of cloth or felt. Felt seems to be the most common but I assume you just need something that is going to absorb the liquid and be able to diffuse it within the hive. The top is thin sheet metal painted black to absorb the sun and heat up the cloth or felt. The heat reacts with the liquid and pushes the bees down and out of the supers.
The fume board worked very well. The smell was awful but it did the trick. We put a cap full of the Bee Go on the felt inside the fume board and placed it on the hive. It took about 5 minutes per hive. We could form a bit of an assembly line because if we moved fast we were able to remove and inspect the supers to see if they were ready to be taken off in time for the next hive to be ready. We then moved the fume board to the next hive, inspected the current hive and the next hive supers were evacuated by the time we were ready to move on. It worked very well and the bees stayed calm.
Using a leaf blower on left over bees
In every super that we used the fume board on there seemed to be a few stubborn bees. I had brought along a leaf blower and tried to blow the bees out of the super. I would not do this again! We set the honey supers on their sides with the frames vertical. The bees were holding on for dear life and there seemed to be lots of casualties. I think that if we were to leave the fume board on for a little longer there wouldn’t be any bees left in the supers. We were just impatient.
The rest of the process was fairly standard. We were using a 4 frame extractor that we borrowed from the local bee club. Borrowing is a great option for the small beekeeper. You should always join a club before you start beekeeping. They will guide you through the process. I am not sure how you would extract without an extractor and they can be very expensive. Especially for the beginner you should rent or borrow. I would also recommend a powered extractor. The hand crank extractors would be a lot of work for anyone with more than one hive.
In the end we got 150lbs of honey from three honey supers