Last week, our friend came over to mentor me with harvesting honey from our top bar hive. I mentioned before that I suspected that it was full, and I was hoping to do this.
Chris showed me how to use the hive tool to get individual bars out of the hive. I opened it up to check on how our bees were doing in there.
There was good news…
Lots of comb, filled with honey!
This comb is full of honey, but it is not yet capped, so it can’t be harvested. Capped honey will stay fresh for a very long time, but uncapped honey is not ready to harvest yet and will go bad if not eaten right away.
But there was also some not so good news; quite a few (lots maybe) of the comb was built across more than one bar. This is called cross comb and it makes it really difficult to harvest honey. Chris suspected that it might be because our the sizing of our top bars was off. You can see in the below picture that I’m actually holding two bars because of this.
It was a bit hot when we were checking all of this out, and some of the comb fell off because of heat made the wax soft. Combined with that and the cross comb problem, we decided not to harvest anything just yet.
We are coming up with a solution to correcting the cross combing problem, and we wanted to give the bees another couple of weeks to get all that lovely honey capped.
Still, it was exciting to get into the hive and see everything. We’ll try to document everything as we go along with the bees.
Cool! Congrats on raising a successful colony! I hope to have bees in the next year or two…
We’ve got lots of that cross-comb situation going on in our first-year TBH as well. I look forward to reading about your solutions! For now, we’re trying to intersperse new bars with triangular guides between the bars with issues, in the hopes that the ladies will build straight comb on those.
Looks like it’s going as well as can be expected, so kudos to you. I’m hoping to convince the hubs it’s a good idea to keep bees at some point… 😉
I am also having major top bar cross-comb drama! The whole front of my hive is totally a wreck, so I’m trying to encourage them to build straight comb towards the back, and hopefully over the long term I can get them out of the big mash of unmovable comb up front. It is so sad! I had a colony last year that didn’t survive, but built beautiful, perfectly straight comb, so I don’t know what is up with the bees this year! 😦
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