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Honey Robber

Well, my ‘flow’ definitely hit pretty hard the last part of May and it’s still coming in a bit today. I was wondering if it was going to hit at all this year!

Having learned my lesson last year, I was ready to go out last weekend and pull all of the capped supers. I ended up making two hauls and think this will be a pretty good  honey year, but we’ll see. One of the best things to occur this year was an experiment with my first fume board(s) and a substance called Honey Robber. Basically, a fume board is simply a shallow box of the exact dimensions of my 10 frame hives. One end is open and the other end is closed with a kind of clear plastic (on the outside) and felt (on the inside.)

To use this tool, you take a foul smelling substance (I used something called Honey Robber) and sprinkle it onto the felt (I dribbled it in an X-pattern, twice quickly). Then, you place it directly onto the hive (after you remove the cover and inner cover), above your capped honey supers. The sun beats down on the clear plastic, heating up the felt and causing the liquid to vaporize into the hive.

The stuff stinks to high heaven, so it’s no wonder that the bees skedaddle away from it. After a few minutes (I waited 7), you can pull the honey super from the hive and not a bee will be on it! I was amazed – it worked like a charm with a couple of exceptions (see below.) Compare that to last year when I was taking one frame at a time from the super, shaking/brushing the bees off and then transferring it to a holding box in my truck. It definitely saved me hours of time and was quite seamless.

There were a couple of asterisks to this adventure, all of which I had read about online but had to learn myself (I’m stubborn that way…)

1. Don’t put that stuff in your car/truck. My cab still stinks, although it seems to be a bit less today. It smells exactly like puke, which I remember well from my college days…

2. It won’t chase bees off of brood. I could not figure out why some of the bees wouldn’t leave one of my supers and ignored it (like a fool) and ended up with capped brood back at home in my honey stack. Hopefully, I didn’t take the queen too….

3. It needs to be in the 80’s and it is really seamless when the sun is shining on the hive. In the shade, the sun doesn’t do its magic by heating the clear plastic top (and thus vaporizing the stinky stuff even more.) I got it to work in the shade, but there was always a rogue bee that didn’t seem to mind the smell. In the sun, none of them stuck around.

Unfortunately, I did not mark which supers came from which hives. I actually discovered a viable, capped queen cell on one (found the developing larva while uncapping.) I have no idea which hive was in swarm mode. None whatsoever.

Of final note, it is clear to me that some queen and blood lines need queen excluders more than others. The exact same hives that I had problems with the queen moving into the supers last year also had the problem this year (even though some were now lead by the daughter of last year’s miscreant.) On the other hand, those hives that didn’t go above the honey barrier last year repeated their performance this year. I am definitely going out to find queens and install excluders this weekend (unless it rains the whole time!) I’d like to remedy the problem that I had last year once and for all.

All in all, a pretty good first pass at extraction. The kitchen is still a mess, but I am hopeful of resolving that shortly!

2 comments to Honey Robber

  • Marco Monti

    Hey Jones,
    When you take the honey this time of the year, do you still leave at least a super full of capped honey or you take all the honey capped supers?
    Also after extracting i take that you put the frames back on top of the hive to have the bees clean them up, and then once cleaned you take them out of the hive again, correct? It wouldn’t make sense to leave all those empty combs on the hive now that the flow will start to slow down, i am thinking that too much space that cannot be utilized might create problems.
    Marco

  • Hey Marco,

    Space is always a key consideration. I do put the ‘wet’ supers back on the hives to be cleaned out. A week or two later, I remove MOST supers and stack them in my shed. Any super that has frames that were used for raising brood are left on the hives. I typically try to leave no more than 2, but hopefully just 1, super on a hive through the Summer and into the Fall. I rarely remove all supers (who knows, we might get a Fall flow one of these days).

    But, I know that some folks are not willing to risk their supers in their sheds or garages and prefer to keep them on the hives and protected there. So, different strokes for different folks.

    Jones

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