Monday, September 5, 2011


As I write this, I am surrounded by the buzzing of hundreds of bees that have made it into the house thanks to my own stupidity, and my fingers look like sausages thanks to the stings I worked through to solve this crisis.

Last evening we decided to harvest some of our Georgetown honey, a first for our DC apiary.  There has been significant demand for a taste of this rare commodity and I wanted to get a quart into the hands of our next door neighbors, a family that has put up with our bee silliness.

We took a whole medium super off one of the hives, Newport I think, full of completely capped honey.  Getting that off the roof was a chore, 30 lbs of boxed honey through the rabbit hole.  I had previously rigged a plywood and rope hoist that I used to lowered the medium, after having bagged the super to prevent bees from entering the house.

Crush and strain was the method used to liberate the honey from the frames.  I scraped the frames, after dark,  on the front stoop to reduce the mess that honey can make, and then left the medium and the empty frames out.  BIG MISTAKE.  I assumed I would get up early the next morning, before the rooftop colonies had an opportunity to take notice, and return the super to the roof where the bees would clean it out.  The wine, I think, encouraged this laziness and I woke up this morning immune to concerns about the process.

Fast foward to 7 am today.  I look out the front door and I cannot see the super as the bees had found it and completely bearded it.  Hundreds of bees filled the air and spilled out into the sidewalk as passers-by looked, in horror, ant the feeding frenzy.  The noise itself was incredible.  Unfortunately, panic prevented me from taking a picture and instead I went straight for some pant to address the problem.

Feeding bees are not docile bees, and with bare feet to boot I entered the fray under-protected but oblivious to the number of stings I was receiving while I bagged up the super and moved all honey-stained objects (and many stowaways) into the house.  All honey related objects are now on the roof where the bees continue to feed and clean them.  There remain hundreds of foragers flying around the area looking for their lost booty, and I hosed off the stoop to remove all traces of honey.
Bees cleaning our honey collection bucket
Back to the honey, it was a great harvest with over 2 1/2 gallons collected.  Crush and strain remains an effective way to harvest small amounts of honey without a huge outlay of time or expense.  Thank goodness we were able to get some honey for our neighbors...hope the flurry of bees abates before they return from their 3-day weekend.
Bees cleaning our wax straining bucket

Moral of the story:  Don't leave your honey-coated equipment outside or the bees will find it!


  1. Yep, that will attract a lot of bees.

    Personally if I saw that happening at my front door, I would have closed the door, and used the back door, hoping the bees in the front would hurry up and do there feeding and move along!

    Pity you didn't get a photo, would have been a classic don't don't do this lesson for the wall :)

  2. Ha! We live right in Gtown and have a lot of pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk 3 feet from the event. I am satisfied that 1) my neighbor was away, and 2) I moved the food source by 8am so the fire department wasn't called.

    I have one more harvest this year, should I do the same thing to get a pic?

  3. By the way, when I think of South, I think Georgia, USA. You bring a whole new and interesting interpretation of SOUTH!!

    Thanks for following our silliness, Max.....

  4. I purposely left out wonky frames for my bees to rob. I posted videos of it on my blog. It was a phenomenal sight and it lasted for at least 2 days. It's a good thing you moved that equipment.