At the end of each summer, clearing the supers is a great feeling. This is the honey that the bees have collected all year and which you will turn into “liquid gold”. The beekeepers need to ensure that the honey is ripe – this means that the moisture content has been reduced to below 18 degrees. When this has been done, the bees will cap the cells with beeswax.
To double check your honey, you can use a device called a refractomer- this measures moisture content.
To start, you need to clear the bees from the supers.
There are a number of different ways to do this
· Porter Bee escapes
· Canadian clearing boards
· Leaf blower
These clearer boards are one way devices which allow the bees to go one direction only ie out of the super and down into the main brood chamber. This usually happens overnight.
You have to make sure that you place them the correct direction. For the porter bee escapes, the hole faces up as you place it in the board. You also have to check that the little metal prongs are not blocked. For the Canadian clearer board, ensure that the wider part of the nossle in to the top with the tapering smaller end on the brood box side. When you return the next day, most of the bees will be cleared and the last few can be brushed gently away with a bee brush.
You then remove that super and cover it so that it cannot be accessed. Remove the clearer boards or porter bee escapes. Return any remaining supers and close up the hive again.
You have to be sure then that the hive is weather proof and all the angles are correctly lined up. Place some bricks or weights on top in case of sudden bad weather or storms. In the next few weeks, you can consider tying down the hives to the hive stands particularly if you are in an exposed area. The bees may need feeding.
With the bad summer, a lot of beekeepers were feeding back frames of ivy honey that they had saved as there was a shortage of forage this year.
However, this past week or two has seen the bees all very busy out foraging. Heft your hives to see if they have sufficient stores. They need 40 lbs of stores to get through the winter.