Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Preparing Frames

Beekeeping involves considerable planning and preparation. In order for us to exploit the honey bee’s industrious labor, we must plan on giving the colony the bee hive equipment as it is needed. This means that we must have ready the hive bodies, supers, and frames to place on the hive as they are needed. The honey bee knows to seek out and gather nectar and pollen whenever they are available. We can enjoy the benefit of their pollination if the hive is in the correct location. We can collect a surplus of honey if we have supers with frames and foundation in place atop the hives. If we do not have enough hive equipment in place when the queen is ready to increase brood production next spring, the colony is likely to swarm. This means that we must spend some time handling the hive equipment that is in winter storage in preparation for returning it to the bees in the spring. The frames that held last year’s honey crop were “wet” and sticky with traces of honey after the harvest. We placed these frames outdoors and allowed the bees to eat the traces of honey. This left them dry to the touch and completely cleaned of honey. At this point the frames were ready to be returned to the hives in the following year. It is convenient, however, to take the opportunity to clean the frames and supers of excess propolis and beeswax burr comb. Cleaning the frames makes working in the bee hive easier for the beekeeper. It reduces irregular places in the comb for small hive beetles to hide, and it reduces damage to comb caused by lifting frames from the hive.

At Peace Bee Farm we clean and store the frames during the off-season. Everybody gets recruited to scrape propolis and beeswax from frames. At age 91, my father, Luther Underhill, enjoys helping prepare frames. The frames of drawn comb will stimulate the bees to hoard honey.

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