This has been an exceptional year for honey. Those who have managed their colonies correctly will have had honey to extract.
Once the honey has been extracted from your supers one is left with the problem of getting the bees to clean up the mess you have created.
Firstly it is advisable for supers to go back on the colonies that evening. The later, the better. This is to cut down on the possibility of robbing.
Secondly how should you put the supers back onto your hive? You will still have your crown boards with porter bee escapes in place on your hives. With your hive tool, remove the escapes. Then simply place the wet supers that belong to that hive back on top of the crown board. If you are lucky you may be able to do this without any smoke. However personally I still light the smoker.
Leave the supers on the hive for two or three days and then remove them if they have been cleaned out. These can be stored in your bee shed once they have been sprayed with Certan against wax moth.
Sometimes a colony doesn’t play ball. They start to chuck nectar back into the supers that have been removed. So you need to do something. Place an empty super on top of your crown board, place another crown board on top of the empty super, place your supers that you want cleared out on top of that crown board, then replace another crown board on top of all those supers and then finally replace the roof. In other words you never can have too many crown boards!
Oh, I hear you say, I will just leave the supers for the bees. Mistake! If you are keeping your bees on 14*12 frames you shouldn’t really leave them a super. That brood box is big enough for them to over winter. In fact giving them an extra super will create a much bigger volume and colder environment for them during the winter months. WBC owners don’t have to worry about this of course because of the double skin provided by the lifts and poly hive owners also will probably get away with creating a larger volume. For me the ideal as an owner of wooden hives is to have them in the 14*12 brood box with the outside frames filled with honey. Of course bees will survive given a bigger volume as long as there are loads of them and the hive is situated in a nice warm winter site. However if this is not the case they may struggle, and you may find yourself at the beginning of next year with bees that have survived but have developed fungal infections or that simply do not survive.
So what am I going to do with that super of honey that I haven’t extracted?
Two options. Certan and store in your shed. Or try and get the bees to rob it out and place the honey in the brood box.
You can get them to rob it out by following the advice given above for clearing wet supers. i.e. you need loads of crown boards. I will do this with some supers in early September once the temperatures have started to fall.
Below is a picture of what happens if you don’t use Certan. Once again advice is, do as I say, don’t do as I do! There is a good reason, of course, why I have a picture!!!
Malcolm Wilkie 16th August 2018