Problem: taking off heavy supers for extraction.

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Queen Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Mar 27, 2012
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After moaning all April about the cold, rain and wind, May has brought lovely weather and a heavy flow so that I now have 4-5 supers on my five productive hives. The hives, double BB, sit on stands 18" above ground level so that the hive roofs are at shoulder-head level. Not sure where the nectar is coming from - the OSR was nearly over at the end of April and is 800m distant. The bottom two supers are capped with water content 18%and no crystallisation. The upper supers are nearly full but uncapped. Lots of bees.
My previous practice has been to put a couple of empty supers above the QX/BB to take the bees driven down by clearer boards under the honey supers above, but that involves lifting off the honey supers, placing the boards, then lifting them back again. I'm not capable of lifting boxes of 15-20kg above head height!
What to do?
1. Get help from a neighbouring beekeeper? No good, we are all retirees of some years.
2. Advertise via Jungle Drums, our neighbourhood info service for a 6th former or student helper? Has been useful in the past but they're all in the middle of exams.
3. Use a blower to clear the boxes - I have ordered a cordless one but not a nice method and does it work?
4. Take out the frames one by one and shake the bees off? - not nice either.
5. Grateful for any other thoughts.


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Update: The one procedure I hadn't thought of when I posted above was to clear the top super with benzaldehyde (much cheaper than Bee-quick). I sprinkled the BZL on a fume board placed directly on the super frames. Within minutes the bees cleared, indeed from the top two supers on a couple of hives. Thus all I had to do was lift off the cleared super/s. The remaining super/s were now easier to lift off so that I could place a clearer board between the super and a super with empty dawn comb (I didn't like the thought of squeezing the bees from three supers into the BBs below).
I took off 14 supers from the five hives. Extracting them in our small kitchen was a killer. Oh for an extraction suite!
I Have met same problem every year.

One thing you have. Your stands are too high and ot lifts you honey one box higher. Put lower wooden stands.

Yeah. It is difficult to get back heavy boxes. But that why you are keeping good bees.

Do not take uncapped honey from hives off. You will walk in piss if you start to drye upp the honey.
In your photo you can see hives without a rise, I could use these as support.
I would place a newspaper with slots over the nest and on top I would arrange the supers that have uncapped honey.
Once you get to the supers with sealed honey I would just brush them to remove the bees.
When you have all the supers checked, it is only a matter of placing them again, being able to leave one of them on the hive that it did not have to reinforce its population.

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