Towards the end of August, fall is in the air and the honey flow here in the Interior comes to an end. The leaves on the birch trees turn yellow and the fireweed loses its petals. This means that it’s time for pulling the honey frames for extraction and preparing the bees for winter.
During previous hive checks, we get an idea of which frames in each hive hold the majority of the honey. Because our summers are so short and the temperatures are cooler up in the hills where we live, the bees don’t often fill the honey supers. They usually store most of their honey in the top brood box. This summer was very rainy and chilly so our bees didn’t even venture up into the honey supers except to work on drawing out comb.
How many frames to pull
Some hives are more productive than others so the number of frames that we pull from each will vary. We might only take three or four frames from less active hives. Other higher-producing hives could have ten or more frames with capped honey.
We check each box and pull out frames that are mostly full of capped honey. We leave frames that still contain brood. It is exciting when we have trouble lifting a frame out of the hive because it is so heavy with honey!
Storing the frames for extraction
We gently brush off any bees that remain on the frame. The frames go into a plastic tub with a cover to keep the bees out. The next step will be to extract the honey from these frames. You can read about our honey extractor in this post.
Removing hive boxes
Once the frames are removed, we can condense the hives. We remove the top brood box. We want all of the bees to make their way down to the bottom brood box for overwintering. This way they will be able to stay warm.
The end of the season
As exciting as this time is when we finally get to harvest our honey for the year, it’s also a reminder that our time of watching the bees fly around is coming to an end. We won’t see them again until after winter. The summers are short where we live so we are grateful for any amount of honey that we can enjoy from our bees!