Picked up my harvest from Mike today. Ten gallons, 113 lbs of pure golden brown honey. And ooo-la-la does it taste good! Michelle and I did a comparison of the 2005 batch to this year’s. The difference is pretty subtle, but it’s there: this year’s has a slightly deeper flavor, I think because there’s less water in it.
Mike did me the favor of marking the moisture content on the lid, .16. That’s perfect, because bacteria and yeast and such can’t grow in honey with a moisture content of less than .18.
In picking up the honey, I also picked a few more tips from Mike. He advised a couple things with regard to feeding, for example. First, he suggested that instead of putting my feeding jars on top of the inner cover, I put them directly onto the frames themselves. Just less territory for the bees to cover.
He also suggested that up here in the Pacific Northwest, he pulls his feeders off before he puts his first honey super on (I’d been advised to keep feeding them until they stopped taking the sugar water, which was often deep into June or even July). Reason being is that the bees will go to the nearest food source, which in this case is the sugar syrup, which ends up distracting them from harvesting nectar. And I don’t want them storing converting sugar syrup in the comb.
Mike, sweetheart that he is (teasing from his lovely wife Bev notwithstanding) also installed the eight-frame spacers for me in the supers I left with him. And gave me some tin to wrap my top covers in. Thanks, Mike!
I stacked up the “wet frames” (the ones that had been harvested and are still sticky with residual honey) on top of my two hives to let the bees clean them off. I’ll pull them off next week sometime.
I also talked with Mike about combining my hives, but in the end I decided against it. The main reason is that I’d want to kill the queen from the weaker hive if I did so (rather than risk the chance that the queen from the weaker hive killed the queen from the stronger hive instead of the other way around) and, as you may remember, the queens I have weren’t marked with a daub of paint as they typically would be, meaning finding her would be quite hard.
Instead, I’m going to leave them an extra super of partially filled frames of honey and let ’em tough it out. Good luck, girls!