Honey Harvest 2020 Commences
The Lynnville side of the operation started extracting a few days ago. The image above is the the first load they hauled in from the yards. Over on the Mount Vernon side of things we once again had a few equipment related items to remedy before committing to a building stacked with honey to extract. We can only let the boxes sit for a few days before extracting, otherwise wax moths and small hive beetles are likely to find the boxes and make a mess of them. Breakdowns are problematic at any time, so I always try to identify the known and likely issues because there will also be surprises along the way.
One of the hidden items we encountered during our preparations was a broken drive pulley for one of the old Woodman extractors. I pulled off the shielding on top of the extractor and found a couple of mysterious pieces of metal that had blown off the pulley's belt channel at some point during the end of the 2019 harvest. Luckily the local hardware store had a replacement part, so we got it solved beforehand instead of breaking down on one of our first loads with a sheared belt. I also slightly modified our hot water circulation system for the extracting line and discovered we needed to install another pump to make it work. Fortunately I had a second water pump on hand from a misdiagnosis of a different problem last year. As long as the honey pump cooperates, I believe we are good to go. That was all in the Mount Vernon system. The image below is the Lynnville extracting line we created when we had far fewer colonies, but we have adapted to keep using it as we've grown. Most of our equipment on both sides of the operation are decades old.
This is a strange part of the year for me mentally. We are simultaneously putting out a few more boxes for surplus collection, beginning harvest in earnest, initiating mite control measures, and turning our mind toward the overwintering health of our bees. A beekeeper's mind has to operate at multiple levels to make this life work, and it's always an adventure with disaster just around the corner. The main adversary to avert right now is catastrophic mite levels that can only be managed once the suprlus boxes are cleared, so off we go to save some bees!
Here is an image of the Mount Vernon bee team putting out some of our last boxes from the warehouse. It's a great feeling to use all of the boxes!