Its been about a month since I last checked on my bees (when I did my first harvest). I was in the area (my hives are a little ways from my home), so I stopped by to check on them. I forgot my camera, so you won’t get any pictures, sorry. From the front of the hives, both looked busy and well populated.
I first checked on hive #2. If you remember from a month ago, I didn’t take any honey from this colony. They seemed to have a good number of bees, but not too much honey stores. I also noted a good amount of drone brood, but also saw worker brood (and the queen). (see here for that post) Today, I got a happy surprise. I had assumed that the major spring nectar flows were over, and the bees wouldn’t build up much more until fall. Dispite this, the girls are still finding something to work. Hive #2 had built nice fresh comb, and were working on filling it. I didn’t dig into the hive, but I think they drew out at least two full combs.
I was in for an even better surprise in hive #1. I had take two combs from this hive for my harvest. I didn’t want to leave the bees to much empty space to take care of, so I had set three empty bars at the back of the hive and move the follower board forward. As I said, I didn’t think they would be building up more until later. Again, I was wrong. When I move the follower board back to check on them, they had not only drawn out full combs on the empty bars, they had also filled them with honey and capped them. They were completely out of room! There were two pretty new combs that were almost fully filled and capped. I definitely gave them more room to expand. I’ll check on them some time in July, and maybe do another harvest if needed. They should have some flow in the fall to build up more stores later too. On thing that is very interesting is the difference in this honey when compared to the stuff I harvested. I really wish I had remembered my camera. Here are pictures from the harvest:
The first thing I want to point out is the color. The honey is a light amber color, pretty close to what you often see at the grocery store (maybe a little lighter). Even in the comb, you can see this color (in the uncapped cells). The new capped honey I saw today was much darker. Its hard to tell exactly how dark it is untill harvested, but I would guess it would be quite a bit darker than the last batch. I’m curious how different the taste might be (the lighter honey I got has a mild flavor). I don’t know what the nectar is from.
The second thing takes a little more explaining. (again, I wish I remembered my camera). Bees can cap honey in two ways, wet and dry. The picture above of mine shows dry capping. When the bees cap the honey in the cell, they leave a small air cushion between the cap and the honey. This leaves it with a nice white “dry” look. Bees can also cap honey without the air cushion, with the cap sitting directly on the honey (wet). I’ve never seen a reason for why they do one or the other, and from everything I’ve read, it has no effect at all on the honey (aside from the look – most people think the dry capping looks nicer). I found a picture on Flickr under a creative commons license showing wet capping (thanks toholio):
As a bonus, this picture shows dark honey too. I’m not sure mine is this dark though. I’m not sure why my bees did dry capping last time and wet capping this time. I’m just happy they are capping honey.