It is surprising how the time flies, I removed the last of the supers that I wanted for honey eight weeks ago and extracted half of them but still have eleven to do and it is getting late. I am running the risk of honey crystallising in the combs, however from previous experience with the extracted honey probably ok for now, fingers crossed. Also wax moth could start raising its head and making combs unfit for extraction but thankfully no sign of Mr and Mrs wax moth to date. One problem I will encounter is with the colder temperatures the honey will be less reluctant to fly out of the combs as it would have done some eight weeks ago and it’s this extra cranking of the handle with my manual extractor may make me regret been so behind with this part of the beekeeping season.
I have set myself a deadline to finish the extracting within a few days from writing this post and all been well along with the extracted honey I should have approx 500-550 lbs of honey this year and my best year by far. My best hive produced approx 150 lbs with another not far behind whereas the rest ranged from this down to 25 lbs. In total, the hives perhaps averaged around 60 lbs and something I am so pleased with especially as its all multi floral honey and not dominated by one big crop such as Oil Seed Rape that can produce huge amounts of a rather bland honey but gives the beekeeper big numbers. Multi floral honey gives you complex flavours and each super full of honey can have a different flavour and colour depending on the plant and flower that is perfect for the bees to forage at that time.
I am also pleased with the fact I have not had to feed any hives after removing the honey, partly down to me removing the honey in good time allowing the bees time to build up stores for winter and the exceptional good weather we have had late in the season. I left hives that were light and on single brood boxes with full supers under their brood boxes and on the double brood hives stopped fitting supers early so the bees would start to fill the top brood box for winter stores.It would have been all too easy to have gone for more honey but seemed wrong and the bees had produced more than enough to share and right they are allowed as much of their own natural food as possible.
I think this balance of a honey harvest and no feeding is a wonderful thing and although not always possible something to aim for each season.