A Taste of Honey

New honey, drawn on foundation.

I checked the bees this morning. They started as packages on foundation but are all grown up now and starting to fill honey supers. The main flow has been going well for a couple of weeks, though interrupted by a bit of cool weather and a wee spot of rain (we could use more). If this is a normal year, the main flow will continue into mid-August. We’ll see how normal this year turns out to be.

For me, this is ideal – two hives in the back yard, shade and a bench to perch upon while counting the number of bees that exit each hour.

So, here’s what’s happening in one of the supers. You can see that the bees have been reluctantly drawing comb, beginning right above the brood nest. They are not starting at the top and working down, but instead are beginning close to most of the bees who live below. Part of the reason is that our nights get pretty cool here in Calgary (high elevation and dry air) so the warmest part of the supers (at night) is the lowest part of the supers.

Look closely, you can see honey glistening in the cells at the bottom.

And here, I just couldn’t help it – I had to have a taste of honey. Reminds me of the Herb Albert song…

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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8 Responses to A Taste of Honey

  1. Glenn Hile says:

    You appear to be using the Betterbee Styrofoam boxes with traditional langstroth size supers. How is that working for you? I’m trying one of the hives for the first time this year. Seems a little akward.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ron Miksha says:

      The polystyrene boxes are from Apihex. I’ve never used anything other than wood in 50 years, but I wanted to give these a try as they don’t need wrapped for winter (which can be really cold here). You probably don’t need to insulate hives for winter in Indiana, do you?
      You are right, they are a bit awkward – I wouldn’t want to move them and when I ‘rotated’ boxes, I moved combs, not deeps. The supers are standard wood, so they are small on the outside, but the insides line up perfectly. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the update on your little ones. I had a swarm a few weeks ago, so I have no idea what my honey production will be like – if I have any at all. I also haven’t checked if there’s a new queen yet; I’m too nervous that I’ll squish her or disrupt the swarm cells. However, I did put a super up right before they swarmed (should have been sooner – I’m new at this)… It seems dumb to remove it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad that you are enjoying the blog.
      About that super – it usually stays empty if left in the garage. It has a better chance of filling sitting on the hive. In your part of the world, you probably get a nice fall honey flow. I’m in Calgary, Canada, and the bees don’t have much to work after late August. But in southeast New York state, I imagine you may get a nice autumn crop of goldenrod, boneset, and aster. So even a weak hive may come along and be strong enough for a late-season crop. Good luck!


  3. valbjerke says:

    I went into this bee ‘hobby’ 😂 being told – ‘don’t expect honey in the first year’ (I’m adding a second Super tomorrow) -they won’t swarm in the first year’ (I found queen cups along the top of a frame in the bottom brood chamber), and you won’t need to do a split until your second year (my instructor said I might have to do a split). I’ve been told ‘scrape the queen cups off’, ‘don’t touch the queen cups’, ‘your queen is dead – those are emergency cells’ ….. you get the picture. Soooo – just doing the best I can as a newbie. Next inspection I’m going to see if there’s any eggs in those queen cups – and make some sort of decision. I did put together and paint an entire second hive set-up, just in case. Those bees are way outpacing my experience 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Bees are amazing and surprising. Anyone who confidently claims to know what the hive needs next hasn’t been keeping bees long enough. We can often learn to make ‘best guesses’ but we never have ‘perfect knowledge’ so people giving advice need to be sure that the audience (or disciple) understands this. Be glad that you get different answers to every question. No one knows your colonies as well as you do, so learn to sort through the (sometimes) contradictory suggestions and try to figure out what makes the most sense for your particular situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. valbjerke says:

    That’s the plan 🙂


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