Well this is long overdue I guess, or maybe only a month or so late. But no worries. Since my last post was about preparing for the honey flow, I thought it fitting to report on how it went.
Many of your that were following that are probably really wondering, "how did the manipulation efforts work!?"
Well first let's just cover the round numbers so it's out of the way. I collected just shy of 500 lbs. That's basically my one time harvest record from 2014. I really didn't expect to get this much, but had a few last minute "boosts" to add to it. Honey weighs 12 pounds per gallon. So a 5 gallon bucket should be 60 lbs. And it's pretty close. I get about 62 lbs gross weight on a brim full bucket, so when you figure for the tare weight of the bucket, it's within a slim margin of error. So now I have a pyramid of about 8 buckets stacked up on back porch. I did have 10, but have bottled some since. I store my honey in food grade 5 gallon buckets and just bottle a bucket at a time as my jarred inventory runs low. I show that effort from January 2016 post when I talked about how I deal with a bucket full of crystallized honey.
"Ok, enough! What were the boosts?" Or do you want to know about the manipulations?
The boosts as I dubbed them were some last minute honey finds I wasn't expecting. I have a good fried that has started two colonies from my stock, and I act as his mentor when needed. He has two very strong colonies but said he didn't have time to harvest. So I harvested it for him on 50% shares. My take from his 2 colonies was 110 lbs. That means he averaged 110 lbs per colony! That far outstrips my record of about 75 lbs off a colony. One of his hives had over 130 lbs alone! 4 10-frame mediums full and a few deep frames as well!
The second boost was from the two queen colony. No, unfortunately it was not that the combined hive made record honey. Instead, they had just hidden what they did have. About a week prior to harvest I did a quick inventory to see which hives had honey. The two queen colony had NONE in the super. NONE!! However, after harvesting off a few other hives, I was compelled to look below the QE, and found each had backfilled their upper deep (5 frame) with honey, instead of pushing through the excluder. One of them did this because they actually requeened during the flow, so had the brood nest space anyway. Not sure why the other did, unless, they just didn't feel like pushing through the QE. However, since I have harvest, I left the upper deeps off, and they have now filled the shared medium. Perhaps I did not have them confined enough as I had placed 3 supers on at the start. It's been shown that adding too many boxes at once can overwhelm the bees and actually make them do less.
The last boost came from a colony that I never expect to get honey from. It was a cutout from back in April. I was already content if they just built up for winter. Instead they have much impressed me. A week prior to harvest they had one super capped, and another full. At harvest they had capped the second! So a hive that I expected nothing from gave me 60 lbs instead!
As mentioned above, the 2 queen colony didn't meet my hopes, but I think I can chalk most of that up to my methods not being quite right. Also there were the "boosted" hives, which I added a bunch of brood to. Two of those swarmed during the flow. It maybe helped spare one of the weaker hives at the farm, but ultimately I'd say it wasn't worth the effort. Several of the colonies that I didn't "boost" made as much or more honey.
How the Day Went
I started the day by heading up to my farm where I had 3 hives with honey. I was there around 7 AM and the bees were already out and about. I believe I got about 30 lbs off each hive. They didn't have near as much as I had hoped. Then it was down to another outyard to get honey off two hives, then on home to my main yard where I collected everything there. I stacked the honey up on the back deck in two stacks, 100% mine, and the supers from my buddy's hive.
We started extracting after lunch. I did the shared honey first so I could get it in buckets and get his equipment back to him. After doing that honey it became quickly evident that I would NOT have enough buckets! With two kids down for naps, I took off to get more buckets. Then it was back to hanging on the handle of the extractor. We finished spinning the last of it around 7 PM I think. Of course there was a dinner break in there. I went ahead and washed down the extractor and equipment instead of letting the bees rob it like normal. Then it was in the house to bottle up the first bucket full, as my jarred inventory was non existent. I was screwing caps on the last jars about 10:30 PM, anticipating a beekeeping class for the next day. Saturday afternoon I drained out the last of what honey had collected off the cappings, then set those out to be robbed dry.
Whew! Made for a LONG Friday and Saturday, but it only comes but once a year, so I can tolerate that. Well, I say once a year, but surveying the hives right now, they may well have another 100 lbs or so hanging out. Might be worth a second harvest effort.
Every year I say I'm going to make more effort to set up more hives in time for honey flow. Maybe 2017 will be the year I take myself seriously :)