A field report by club member Marija Glabus

Saturday 18th October, there was an opportunity at the Central Coast Amateur Beekeepers club to gain first hand experience. Club member, Peter, indicated on Wednesday 15th October, that the school hives needed to be robbed and checked on, as they have been left untouched for a period of time.

Saturday, at 10am, I arrived at the Ag House, having brought my very white new bee suit and gloves.  Slowly members of the club arrived and quickly a plan was placed into action. The call to suit up was given, equipment was organised and a brief summary given to the rookies of the club. In total there were at least 5-6 rookies or shall we say, potential bee keepers.  Four experienced members of the club provided valuable knowledge and skills – including Peter, Warren, Barbara and Suzette.  The ladies of the club were particularly eager to share their knowledge and experience.

Down to the hives, smokers active, Peter applied the smoke in just the right places. There were 4 hives to be checked and robbed.  Peter was able to show the group how to use the correct tool to open the hive and then using the same tool to lift the frames.  He also was able to show the group the brood box and explain that he could hear that the bees were busy and the queen bee was still healthy.  In all 5 boxes, 40 frames were taken from the hives.

The next process now involved actual extraction of the honey from the frames. Back at the Ag farm the manual 4 frame extraction machinery was put into place. First we had to uncap the frames, using a heated uncapping knife, Suzette showed us how to begin the process.  Each of us took turns in uncapping the frames.  Finally, 4 frames were ready to be extracted. Now it was over to Barbara and Warren to show us how to load the extractor with the frames facing in one direction, usually the side loaded with the most honey.  Manually turning the handle and counting to 60, the honey was slowly extracted. Time now to change the frames to reveal the other side and again counting to 60, the second side of the frame was extracted.  Soon, there was enough honey to start filling up a 30L bucket.

Several hours later, 2 full buckets of honey were produced. It was almost time to head home but there is always the house keeping to be done.  Cleaning as we go was part of the process but further cleaning was required for the machinery.  Despite cleaning as we went, honey was on the floor, on the table and any other surface our sticky hands met with. Again the girls were able to offer some great trips to cleaning as you go and always having that bucket of warm soapy water on hand to clean hands.

I learnt so much on the day from, opening a hive, identifying healthy bees, checking frames, using the tools correctly, decappping and extraction of the honey. It was fantastic to put it all into practice.  Reading books is one thing but after this day, I’ve already identified some of my rookie decisions and how to approach things differently.  I appreciated the time and energy given by the members of Ag House, our club. I would especially like to thank Peter, Warren, Barbara and Suzette for their time and energy.

Field day at the Ag Farm
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