Saturday, September 28, 2013

Robber Bees!!!

After finishing up the honey extraction process yesterday I decided to set my de-capping tank outside to let the girls clean it rather than running it up to the car wash and spraying it out.  Usually I don't set the equipment out for the bees to clean because they seem to want to roll in the honey that sticks to the sides until they drown themselves, but with the temperatures in the low 80's instead of the mid 90's the excess honey isn't pooling so quickly and the girls don't get all covered in the stuff and die.

Normally a group of Females covered in honey and wrestling around might be met with cheers on my part but the bees just don't know how to restrain themselves like they should. Just like in my younger days it is up to me to keep a lid on the female feeding frenzy so I am experienced and all that :)

Since the de-capping tank is going into Winter storage once it is cleaned and I will need to wash it out next year when I use it again anyway I decided to let the girls get what they could off of it. It will save me a whole buck at the car wash since I still needed to take the spin extractor down. I don't let the bees clean the extractor out because far too many get stuck inside and they are too hard to remove once they get down in there and can't find their way back out.

It took less than five minutes for the girls to smell the open honey I parked about 10 yards from the hives and descend on the tank in numbers like you see in the pictures. The air was full of bees coming and going taking the honey back to their hives or coming to get more.

As you can see even the transport tub I put the newly pulled frames in was covered in bees cleaning off every little bit of honey they could find. When you consider that one bee typically only produces a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime even the small amount covering these items is a big deal to them.

The girls will have these items cleaned smooth of everything except the most stuck on melted wax and propolis before the day is finished then I will wipe em off and put them in storage for Winter.

I managed to harvest maybe another two gallons of honey and it is setting in it's bucket allowing the air bubbles to rise out of it as I write this. I should be bottling it tomorrow afternoon sometime and it won't be a minute too soon.

Yesterday alone I had two different locals coming by asking to purchase more honey. I guess someone saw me pulling frames from the garden hives which can be seen from the road and the word is out now. I doubt this little bit is going to cover the demand especially since we have to make it through Winter but I will do what I can.

Hopefully next year I will have the numbers built back up with enough producing hives to keep my supply up with local demand and maybe even expand out.

Taking over the World one bottle of honey at a time!!!

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Replies
    1. Rob - At least I don't hear them talk in English yet.

  2. PioneerPreppy, I put both the extractor and the decapping tank out for the bees to enjoy and have not experienced the problems that you mentioned. Before I put them out for the bees, I scrape the sides and bottom with a stiff spatula or an old key card that was being thrown out. The bees do their thing and I clean the equipment inside, away from all the honey craving creatures, with hot, soapy water before storing it.

    If you are still having customers ask for honey in larger containers, you might consider taking a large bucket of honey with a honey gate to market with you. You could bottle to the satisfaction of the individual and could charge a touch more for the extra service.

    Of course, the drawbacks are the extra equipment, the space it takes, and trying to bottle without every creature at the market trying to help themselves to the honey. Just a thought.


    1. Dave - I don't know what brand or size extractor you have but unless I wish to take mine completely apart there is no way I can get into it to scrape the honey down. I typically wedge it upside down and allow it to run out as much as possible but even leaving it for hours doesn't get get everything. It will pool back down to a thick enough layer that the bees get covered in honey and die.

      Now with the tank and other receptacles I have better luck but the foragers from other hives will kill each other sometimes at the open honey. I have put out equipment with only one hive and not seen a dead bee but with three hives I have a hundred or more dead ones when it is all over.

      Your bottling on the spot idea is a good one. Hopefully if I make it through Winter without the losses I suffered this last year I will have enough at one time to try it. It would save me the bottle overhead. Why I could just put the bucket on the tailgate of my truck.

  3. So bees are like ants and have battles between groups? That's kind of neat. You should have tiny horned helmets made up for your bees and teach them to make a phalanx.

    1. Harry - Some hives will turn into total Vikings and plunder their weak neighbors mercilessly. Sometimes they will go in and purposefully kill the queen just so they can come back again and again to raid keeping the hive weak.

      Mid to late Summer when it is hot and dry is the worst time for robbing activity but I have also seen my bees fighting over feed sources as well. Killing the foragers from the other hives.

      I read somewhere that hives will somehow work out boundaries among themselves when they are close together but I cannot say I have any direct observation of this.

      Most horned helmets wouldn't be caught dead in a phalanx, it's shield wall or nothing. Phalanxes are for those effeminate South Landers :)

    2. Damn. I had no idea bees were so much like people. Now I wonder if humans evolved from bees and not apes?

      I always thought if I had to be in a phalanx I'd be one of those guys in back pushing, rather than up front spearing.

  4. PP,

    How neat to watch them clean and fight over honey.
    I guess you could be called the referee????

    1. Sandy - I have much experience at keeping Women in line when they are fighting over the same prize :)


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